Nonprofits and Sports Business

Youth golf program expands presence

February 11, 2020
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First Tee


A nonprofit youth development program will be growing into another West Michigan county.

The First Tee of West Michigan will be partnering with the Kalamazoo Junior Golf Association and the city of Kalamazoo to expand its golf program to Kalamazoo County starting spring 2021.

“Kalamazoo is one of the largest population centers in the state without a First Tee chapter presence,” First Tee of West Michigan Executive Director Tyler Smies said. “We are incredibly fortunate to partner with the Kalamazoo Junior Golf Association and the city of Kalamazoo, who have strong and sustainable junior golf programs. We can’t wait to provide First Tee curriculum to more young people in Kalamazoo who may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn through golf because of transportation or economic barriers.” 

The golf program teaches youth ages 7-17 life skills, values and healthy habits through golf. First Tee of West Michigan is planned to serve at three Kalamazoo municipal golf courses in 2021. They are Red Arrow, Eastern Hills and Milham Park.

“The Kalamazoo Junior Golf Association has provided affordable golf opportunities to 400-plus youth annually for over 30 years,” said Dean Marks, PGA professional and president of KJGA. “The opportunity to partner with First Tee and their life skills and values curriculum will increase our outreach to area youth. That is a win for the community, a win for the youth, and a win for golf and the future of Kalamazoo.

“We are excited to expand the use of Red Arrow Golf Course to ensure that any family who wants their kids to learn important life skills through the game of golf will be able to do so regardless of their ability to pay.” 

First Tee of West Michigan serves over 1,200 students at 15 golf courses in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. The organization said it believes it can impact more than 500 young people in Kalamazoo annually by 2023.

For more information on First Tee of West Michigan, visit its website.

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