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The First Tee of Massachusetts expands with help of matching grant

August 28, 2014

By Chris Hybl, Special to PGATOUR.com/Together

Lauren Chin, 9, from South Boston acknowledges that she wouldn’t have the opportunity to play in an all-girls league near her house because they simply don’t exist.  But this year, for the first time ever, The First Tee of Massachusetts was able to launch a new all-girl opportunity tournament series thanks to a matching grant they received from The First Tee home office, which was made possible by Legacy Partner Johnson & Johnson.

“We had help from a couple of dedicated volunteers to help this get off the ground, which was great,” said Joe McCabe, executive director of the chapter. “We offered four monthly tournaments over the course of the summer, and had 19 or 20 towns represented by participants in total.”

The First Tee has learned that creating successful female junior golf program includes offering fun-filled, girls-only classes and special events. The First Tee has a goal to grow the number of females in its programs to 45% by 2017. Events like the The First Tee of Massachusetts launched are helping the organization get there.

“I really like meeting the other girls from the league that like golf,” said Chin, who played in the girls-only tournaments this summer. “They all come from different towns, so now I have a new group of friends.”

The First Tee’s programs are designed around building character through the game of golf.  Young people learn life skills and core values on the course, and then are encouraged and challenged to transfer the skills to other areas of their life, including home and school.

Jillian Barend, 12, from North Attleboro near Providence, Rhode Island, said, “It’s really fun to compete on a team. Most golf tournaments are individual, but I like being a part of my team with girls all from my hometown. I love being in The First Tee. I have improved my golf and have learned a lot there from our instructors.”

The First Tee of Massachusetts was able to stage the tournaments, providing food and beverages for the girls, as well as promote them through social media and websites.

McCabe continued: “The girls in our program seem to do well and excel in situations where there are other girl participants around. I think they like having their own instructional part of it and being able to compete against each other.  It’s great when they can learn with and from their peers.”

The First Tee of Massachusetts is also using The First Tee Chapter Matching Grant to prepare for program expansion into a location in downtown Boston. The chapter currently offers programs at four locations: MGA Links at Mamantapett, Fenway Golf Range in Springfield, Reedy Meadow Golf Course in Lynnfield, Hyannis Golf Club in Cape Cod.

The First Tee has approximately 180 chapters in the United States and in select international locations. Its stated goal of reaching 10 million additional young people by 2017 received a boost when Johnson & Johnson became its inaugural Legacy Partner in 2012, providing the home office an opportunity to administer a three-year, 10 million matching grant program for its chapters. The First Tee chapters participating in the grant program are in their third and final year. Donations to chapters participating can be matched up to $1 for every $2 raised.

To find a chapter of The First Tee, visit thefirsttee.org. To learn more about The First Tee of Massachusetts, visit thefirstteemass.org.

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