The school week might have been over, but Feb. 26, from 9:30 until 11 a.m., First Tee of Atlanta (First Tee) turned the golfing greens on The Commons at Fort McPherson into a classroom for 29 children seeking to learn more about the sport.

In partnership with the U.S. Army Garrison Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), First Tee held the first session of their five-week program that uses golf as a vehicle to teach children skills, such as confidence, courtesy, good sportsmanship and other positive character qualities they can apply throughout their lives, said Mary Scott, First Tee coach.

One reason golf is a good means to teach these lessons is because it's is a gentleman's sport, Scott said, explaining the game requires learning how to respect others by sharing the course and a great deal of self-discipline.

Tondia Reese, program analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency, said she was glad to see her two children, Jason, 8, and Summer, 5, socializing with the other children in the program. "It was definitely time well spent," she said, adding besides the socialization, the session exposed her kids to a new sporting experience.

"I try to introduce them to different activities to see if they have an interest," said Reese, who said she found out about the program through a DFMWR e-mail message. Jason, who said he already plays baseball, soccer and jiujitsu, said he enjoyed his first exposure to golf. "It's good," he said.

"They teach us good things like how to hold the club and hit the ball." While life skills are the focus of the course, the children will also be exposed to plenty of golf, Scott said. Skills taught will include proper grip, putting and driving skills, and course etiquette. The children will put all those skills together during the final class by actually playing a few holes on the Fort McPherson golf course, she said.

Because lessons build upon one another, it is important for children not to miss lessons, Scott said. Although exceptions will be made for children who missed the first week, children who miss the first two lessons should wait until the next session is offered, she added.

Chris Hawkins, First Tee head coach, said classes will be offered until the base closes, with about a two-week break between classes. Thus, the next class will start in mid-March or early April, Hawkins said. "Hopefully, they'll acquire some learning, develop a desire to play golf, and most importantly, have fun," Hawkins said of the children.

For more information on the First Tee program, visit www.thefirstteeatlanta.org.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16