"Yes, we teach golf, but more importantly, we use it as the vehicle to teach the life skills that are inherent with the game. Our goal is to provide programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices,” Shivetts said. “So, not only do these kids learn a game for a lifetime but they learn the life skills to be successful and healthy individuals."
Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority (PARA) started the local First Tee program in 2000, shortly after Ol’ Colony opened. Earlier this year, First Tee expanded to include the Tall Pines Golf Club in Tuscaloosa. The program offers sessions to junior golfers ages 6 to 17, and to date, thousands of area kids have participated.
Scholarships for sessions are available, and First Tee keeps golf equipment on hand to lend out to kids who might not have their own. All of this costs money, and while donations are encouraged year-round, the annual Benefit Scramble helps tremendously, according to organizers.
"This event is one of the most important days of the year for our chapters' financial well-being,” said Shivetts. “Without the continuous and generous support of the Tuscaloosa community we would not be able to reach the youth that we do. Their support will allow us to expand our locations, increase program frequency, and most importantly, create more opportunities for more kids."
This marks the 14th year for the Benefit Scramble, which gets underway with shotgun starts at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday. Entry fees are $700 per team and $175 for individuals. The fees include green fees, cart fees, range balls, team prizes as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lunch will be provided by McAbee’s Pigfitters barbecue and dinner by Jalapenos. Dinner, which begins at 5:30 p.m., includes a raffle and the awards ceremony.
For more information about The First Tee’s Benefit Scramble, call Mike Shivetts at (205) 562-3201. To learn more about The First Tee, visit thefirsttee.org.