I’ve never actually played golf. The only time I ever really hit a ball or two was with my former husband. As we casually practiced on a driving range one fine day many years ago, we both suddenly looked up and in a split second saw our balls collide in midair about 25 yards out! I figured I better quit while I was ahead of the stats curve.

As with most things in life, it’s best not to judge a book by its cover. I admit it, ever since I was a kid growing up in Quechee, I had somewhat of a fear of, which manifested as disdain for, golf. I thought that it was only for wealthy, white, businessmen or old men with an occasional snobby, old woman added to the mix. Remember, that was from a young girl’s perspective in the 1970s.

Fast forward to today. Just look at the good that golf does in the world. QLLA Charities, alone, has donated over $2 million to the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD). Relationships are built and connections are reinforced on golf courses of every size and condition. Grandparents spend time with their grandchildren in an activity that gets both generations outside and engaged in something they can do together. Business relationships are solidified as the initial agenda fades to the background in the face of having fun. People from all socioeconomic backgrounds can join together on the course and practice life skills and values that serve to unite.

One organization that I discovered while editing an article in my publication in St. Petersburg, FL (northeastjournal.org), called The First Tee, brings all of the good stuff that golf has to offer into one national, non-profit organization.

According to their website:

“Our mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”

“Through after-school and in-school programs, we help shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect and perseverance through the game of golf. And it’s making a difference. Our research-proven programs are having a positive impact on participants, their families and their communities.”

Since inception in 1997, more than 12.2 million young people have participated in The First Tee programs offered at local chapters, including the ForeU Golf Center in West Lebanon, NH; national school programs which introduce golf into the physical education programs at public schools, and; programming offered at youth-serving after-school programs like local Y’s and other similar organizations.

For many of you reading this post, golf may have personal significance to you, but perhaps is taken for granted. Now, imagine for a moment, being a young person living in a disadvantaged community with little hope for breaking out of that cycle of a life of economic struggle. Now imagine being that same young person on a driving range with a mentor teaching you and encouraging you and praising you as you learn a new physical skill. And, even more importantly, as you learn how to handle frustration, cultivate patience, practice good sportsmanship and believe in yourself. This is at the core of what The First Tee is all about. Not only do I love what it does for the youth served, but being a mentor – engaging in a sport you love, while passing on that love and positively impacting the life of a young person – must be the greatest gift of all!

Next time you are out on the course, whether for business or pleasure, think of golf as a vehicle for giving and enjoy yourself all the more!

To read past articles about QLLA Charities and CHaD, go to the Quechee Times blog on the DailyUV, https://dailyuv.com/organizations/425-quechee-times. For more information about The First Tee, go to www.thefirsttee.org.

For more information about the benefits of golf and mentors, see https://thefirsttee.org/impact/teen-alumni-research/