Youth Golf and Life Skills Program Flourishes at Briardale Greens
The First Tee of Cleveland, a youth education program that focuses on building character, instilling life-enhancing values, and promoting healthy choices through the game of golf, is hosting an Open House at Briardale Greens April 9 beginning at 10 AM. Parents with children ages 6-18 are encouraged to come learn more about this community-based life skills program.
According to David Alexander, a member of the PGA and First Tee Lead Program Coach, there will be a number of activities planned for kids to learn more about The First Tee of Cleveland and the programs offered. Alexander has worked with The First Tee in a number of locations but has found Euclid’s Briardale Greens a particularly rewarding and successful location for the program.
“In our first year we had 45 kids, but we keep growing every year. This year we hope to get up to 75,” said Alexander. “It is a vibrant and diverse program that teaches valuable life skills and utilizes the golf course atmosphere.” He added that the program allows girls and boys as young as six to begin to learn the game of golf, but also learn important life lessons which are reinforced in The First Tee’s approach to instruction. The First Tee weaves its “Nine Core Values” – honesty, integrity, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, judgment and sportsmanship – into every aspect of the program.
The instruction that kids receive when they participate in The First Tee of Cleveland is tailored to their age. “We get them out on the course, walk it and make sure they are enjoying the game while learning,” said Alexander. He noted that younger players are able to practice golf skills and learn the game in a relaxed environment. Many players do not have clubs, but are able to borrow them from The First Tee during the sessions.
Seeing young players learning the sport of golf is something Matthew Baca, General Manager of Briardale Greens, enjoys seeing. “Because The First Tee of Cleveland specializes in working with kids, they are able to provide great instruction and they are very patient in helping them,” said Baca. “The instructors are highly qualified and really do a great job of teaching the sport, but also much more. These kids are learning life skills that are very important.” Baca enjoys seeing the kids playing on the course. To encourage younger players, Briardale Greens offers free golf to players age 16 and under on weekends after 3 PM when they play with an adult.
The First Tee of Cleveland is headquartered at the Washington Golf Learning Center, a course located in Cleveland off Harvard Avenue. In branching out to Euclid’s Briardale Greens, the program saw an opportunity to impact the lives of kids in Euclid and the surrounding communities.
A Euclid native and junior at St. Ignatius High School, Evan Steigerwald has been involved with The First Tee of Cleveland since he was ten years old This past winter, Steigerwald received the Doris A. Evan, MD Scholarship from The First Tee of Cleveland, an award he plans to use for college. “The First Tee has helped me understand what is expected of me outside of just school or home. It has helped me a lot with my job as a caddy,” said Steigerwald having learned how to caddy through The First Tee. "They have also helped me learn some important leadership skills." He continues to support the organization as a volunteer, working with younger members.
Nine year old Theresa Lazanich joined The First Tee program at Briardale last year and has enjoyed making new friends. “I like that everybody’s friendly,” said Lazanich. She is currently enrolled in a winter course that teaches a variety of life skills at The First Tee headquarters location.
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