MELBOURNE, Australia (10 December 2019) – Former PGA TOUR Commissioner and the Vice-Chairman of First Tee Tim Finchem and CEO of PGA of Australia Gavin Kirkman announced today the launch of the First Tee of Australia. Presidents Cup and its Global Partner, Citi, helped launch the efforts through the Citi 44 Million Yard Challenge, an interactive global experience for fans to drive a golf ball around the world while driving toward the opportunity to bring the First Tee chapter to Australia.
The chapter will be managed by PGA of Australia and will engage with local community groups to reach underserved teenagers. Initially, the program will be offered at three program locations in Melbourne with plans to expand throughout the country in the next several years. Coaches are being provided with formal training to introduce the teens to the First Tee’s curriculum with an emphasis on personal development and understanding of core values and life skills, using golf as the platform.
“The chapter will utilise the sport of golf to teach the First Tee’s core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, judgement and courtesy,” CEO of PGA of Australia Gavin Kirkman said. “We are proud that our PGA Members have been selected to be the program deliverers of the First Tee in Australia and I look forward to witnessing youth develop under the mentorship of PGA of Australia Professionals.”
This will be the sixth international location for First Tee, a youth development organization that seamlessly integrates the game of golf with a life skills curriculum.
“Already such an exciting week for golf in Australia with the Presidents Cup’s return to Melbourne, we are thrilled about this formation of a First Tee chapter in Australia and the opportunity to teach the game of golf and its core values to countless youth in the future,” said the First Tee Vice-Chairman Tim Finchem. “We are extremely grateful for Presidents Cup Global Partner Citi, the First Tee and the PGA of Australia for their support in bringing this initiative to life throughout Melbourne and all of Australia.”
Leading up to the announcement and this week’s Presidents Cup, fans participated in the Citi 44 Million Yard Challenge to collectively drive a golf ball 44 million yards – the length it takes to circle the globe – for the 2019 Presidents Cup, while driving towards the launch of the First Tee of Australia. The Challenge included an interactive web-based game, a mobile game and a simulator that was placed throughout Australia and New York.
“Citi is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the First Tee chapter in Australia,” said Guy Matthews, Head of Corporate Affairs for Citi Australia and New Zealand.
“We see this is as a legacy of our partnership with the Presidents Cup here in Melbourne. The values of the First Tee are well-aligned with our philanthropic commitments to support young people as they gain the skills to succeed in their transition from education to employment.”
The launch featured a variety of First Tee golf activities at Victoria Golf Club being demonstrated by 2019 Women’s PGA Champion Hannah Green, two-time Presidents Cup member Nick O’Hern and former AFL footballer and avid golfer Brendon Goddard.
Brendon Goddard said that “The First Tee program is great and allows the game of golf to be the vehicle to instill morals into young people like respect and sportsmanship that are so valuable in day-to-day life. The greatest coaches that I have had in football are the ones that not only made me a better footballer, but a better person.”
Hannah Green today said “When I grew up playing I learnt a lot about myself being at the golf club learning values from those around me and I think that First Tee is a great program aimed at highlighting these life values. I think it’s great that First Tee is coming to Australia.”
First Tee has been in existence for 22 years, primarily in the United States, and has grown to approximately 150 chapters and over 1,200 program locations including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Morocco. Since its inception in 1997, First Tee has impacted more than 15 million young people through its character-building programs on golf courses, in schools and at youth-serving locations.
For more information on First Tee, visit thefirsttee.org.