Media Center Glynn elementaries to get First Tee program

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Glynn elementaries to get First Tee program

The group’s goal is to use golf to teach core values to youth

By Terry Dickson
Posted with Permission from Florida Times Union and

BRUNSWICK – Chris Brown lined up a putt Tuesday morning  and tapped it toward his target.

But instead of a green, he was putting on Glynn Academy’s  hardwood gym floor. He was also using an oversized plastic putter and the ball  was more like a tennis ball than a hard golf ball.

“And that’s the way I putt,’’ he said as he missed his target  drawing laughs from other teachers.

Brown was one of Glynn County’s physical education teachers who  took a golf lesson unlike any they had ever had. Their instructor was Benna  Cawthorn, managing director of Curriculum and Training for The First Tee, an  organization that uses golf to teach healthy habits and good core values to  youth.

There was a pile of equipment in the middle of the gym floor,  targets, hoops and clubs that will fit the hands of kindergartners through  fifth-graders, The First Tee’s target ages.

“There’s one set of equipment that teachers will use. All 10  will get it,’’ said Mark Love, executive director of the Davis Love Foundation.  The foundation will coordinate with the new Golden Isles Leadership Foundation  to manage the program in Glynn County. Funding comes from the McGladrey Classic,  a PGA Tour tournament played each October at Sea Island Co.’s Seaside course on  St. Simons Island. Love’s brother, Davis Love III, is the tournament host and  this year’s Ryder Cup captain.

Will Bratton, who works in outreach for The First Tee, said the  program will focus on teaching core values and healthy habits.

The core values are easily attached to golf, Love said.

“It’s a game of honor,’’ he said.

Indeed, golf is a game in which the lucky breaks come only in  where the ball rolls and not what the officials say. Golfers referee themselves  and call their own penalties.

Their are nine core values and nine health habits. The values  include honesty, integrity, respect and perseverance and the healthy habits  include play, energy, safety, family and vision.

Once believed to be a rich man’s game, golf is more inclusive  and the program will help students play the real game, not just the  instructional indoor version.

Love said The First Tee, the foundations and some partners will “find ways to get them to green grass facilities.”

That may include youth days at local facilities, he said.

“The in-schools program is a stepping stone,’’ Love said.

The First Tee curriculum is in use in about 5,000 elementary  schools and has been experienced by about 2.5 million youth, Bratton said.

“We want to reach 10 million by 2017,’’ he said.

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