SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Work is getting done to get kids back to playing.
“We’ve submitted all of the applications, so we’re able to proceed. We have a board right now,” said Mark Hamilton, who is on the First Tee of Savannah board.
For almost 15 years, the First Tee of Savannah was a presence in the local golf community and in the lives of young people learning to play the game. And now there is a group trying to revive the program that dissolved a couple years ago when funding dried up.
“The groundwork has been laid. We’re very fortunate working with the national First Tee has been very supportive of it,” Savannah Golf Club Head Professional Alex Messinger said.
“It’s wonderful. Everything old is new again. But more importantly, to see the effort coming together from the beginning, we’ve been at this for quite a few months now,” retired PGA professional Chip Chambers said.
“We submitted our application for tax-exempt status about two and a half months ago. That we have another three or four months to wait. So, that puts us into spring of next year.”
Whenever the local golf pros and golf enthusiasts representing the First Tee can bring it back, the program’s structure, guidance and life lessons will be welcomed back as readily as the access to golf it provides.
“It’s a youth-development program foundation before it’s a golf program. They go together, but golf is the vehicle. The nine core values, the honesty, the integrity, the respect, everything that’s taught in the program, golf is a way to get there.”
“I’m all about getting kids in, and the core values in First Tee are fantastic. It’s becoming a better person and then golf is part of that,” said James Walden, with Crosswinds Golf Club.
Crosswinds Golf Club has committed to be the host site for the program. But a First Tee re-do will create opportunities for kids across the Greater Savannah area.
“The bi-product of all of this is fabulous because these kids will not only learn a lot of life skills, but more importantly, friendships that will last a lifetime ... my of my friends as early as the age 10 or 12 are still my golf friends and we still play. Nothing’s better. It’s a great place to do it and the perfect atmosphere.”
And now closer than ever to being back.
“Knowing it’s a wonderful opportunity, the only thing we could do was start over and try to get support. It’s gotten wonderful reviews; people have great memories of this program and they’re looking forward to helping out going forward.”