First Tee-Indiana Awarded USGA celebrating First Tee’s 25th Anniversary

First Tee – Indiana was among the 25 Chapters across America that received an IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility) grant honoring a quarter-century partnership between the USGA and First Tee. The USGA’s IDEA Grant Program provided 25 chapters with grants ranging from $5,000 – $25,000, celebrating 25 years of growing the game through youth based initiatives. This program is committed to breaking down the barriers to participate in golf and First Tee programs, as well as ensuring that recreational golf continues to thrive. 

The specific community partnerships that the grant will aid include the Douglass Golf Course Program, Madison County Minority Health Coalition; Spring Break Advancement Academy, the Tippy Stars Sports Team in Lafayette, and the Carver Community Center in Kokomo. We felt that these partnerships would benefit the most from receiving funding.

Douglass Golf Course Program

The Douglass Golf Course remains as one of the most accessible golf courses in the city and in 2021, we experienced that accessibility in full circle when First Tee introduced programming there. We were able to impact over a 100 kids and teens through various partnerships with other youth serving organizations in the area. Of those 100 kids and teens the majority of them were not only brand new to golf but had never stepped foot on a golf course before. Douglass is our only free site for participants, meaning that any kid or teen who wants to participate can do so at no cost to them. This grant funded us for continued golf course access and coach payment support, as well as additional class equipment.

“We are grateful for grants like this that helped us impact a record number of kids and teens that otherwise wouldn’t have the chance at Douglass” says Taylor Haudek, Site Director of Indianapolis First Tee – Indiana. 

Carver Community Center 

A new opportunity that is arising for First Tee -Indiana participants is programming at the Carver Community Center in Kokomo, Indiana. We have a new First Tee Coach and PGA Professional who will be implementing the First Tee Community Program both at the Carver Center and the Kokomo American Legion Golf Course. With this being a newly formed program, we are in high need for developmental funding. This grant has provided our Chapter with start-up money for program equipment, class materials/golf course access, and scholarship offerings. 

Madison County Minority Health Coalition,  Advancement Academy

In 2022, we took part in a two-week Spring break camp and a one-week Fall break for kids in the Anderson Community School Corporation through the Madison County Minority Health Coalition. The camps introduced golf to its students for the first time with First Tee Community Program equipment and the help of our First Tee staff and a local First Tee Coach. We provided information to the students about our programming at local golf courses. For the next camp, we will be purchasing K-5 equipment and providing scholarship funds for First Tee class sessions. This grant dispersed money for equipment and scholarship offerings. 

“Last year during Spring Break we had approximately 300 students.  This year for Fall Break we have a little over 800 students! The program is growing by leaps and bounds!” says Betsy Pearson from the Madison County Minority Health Coalition. 

Tippy Stars Sports Team/First Tee Night, Lafayette, Indiana 

For the last three years, our Lafayette First Tee location has partnered for an evening with the Tippy Stars special needs team for a golf skills challenge night. First Tee participants partner with a Tippy Stars player and guide them through a putting, chipping and hitting challenge course. With the USGA grant funds, we purchased golf clubs and balls for each Tippy Stars player to take home and safely use to practice indoors or outdoors.

“It’s a special night to be able to work with the Tippy Stars kids alongside our First Tee participants. It’s great to see how we can use golf to get us playing together. At the end of our night this year, all of the Tippy Stars received a golf club, ball and target to practice on their own. Hopefully their interest in golf has grown over the past three years that we have done this event, and they will want to join us in a full class soon” said Dan Ross, PGA Pro and First Tee Coach. 

First Tee – Indiana  is thrilled to use this USGA grant to continue supporting communities through community partnerships, financial assistance, free access, scholarships, and Youth on Course. 

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