First Tee Rules and Rants

Rules of Amateur Status changes will help introduce the game to underserved demographics

“The Rules of Amateur Status.” “Growing the game.”  

In the past, those phrases were seldom mentioned in the same breath. 

But let’s give credit where it’s due. The Rules of Amateur Status are essential for preserving the integrity of the game by clearly delineating the difference between an amateur golfer and a pro. For example, amateurs must not accept payment or other compensation for giving instruction. (Golf instruction involves teaching the mechanics of swinging a club and hitting the ball.) That mandate belongs to PGA of Canada members. 

But recent changes to those Rules offer an exception if the instruction is part of a program that has been approved in advance. To date, two programs—First Tee ​Canada​ and Iron Lady Golf—have been approved. Each application is reviewed jointly by Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada.

“This change provides a great opportunity to show how the Rules of Amateur Status can be a positive to support amateur golfers and grow the game, especially in underserved demographics,” says Mary Beth McKenna, Golf Canada’s Director of Amateur Championships and Rules. “It allows approved programs to compensate amateur golfers for their time when helping introduce people to the game.” 

The Rule change doesn’t mean amateurs now can make a fulltime living doing this, McKenna emphasizes. What it allows is a reasonable amount of compensation for their time spent helping beginners, not teaching the game.​  Being an approved program means that the hours spent on instruction is restricted to ensure they fall within the approved parameters.​

First Tee is Golf Canada’s multi-tiered youth development program. Iron Lady Golf is a well-established private initiative designed to introduce women to the game. (So far, more than 20​,000.) The goal is to ​help ​make ​women​​ feel more comfortable by having female ​coaches​​. But with women making up only a small fraction of the PGA of Canada’s membership, having a female pro in every session is​ nearly​ impossible.

So Iron Lady Golf’s founder, Lindsay Knowlton, a Class A PGA of Canada professional, relies on what she calls “ambassadors”, experienced amateurs who assist with the basic fundamentals of etiquette, rules and ​ how to navigate your way around a golf course.​

“​W​​hen I got the news that our program had been approved, I was ​ecstatic because it meant we have the opportunity to introduce more women to golf in Canada,” Knowlton says.​ “We are passionate about helping more women say ‘yes’ to golf, making it more accessible and less intimidating. Our focus is working with beginner to ​​intermediate​ golfers. When​ someone ​shows an interest in ​​wanting ​more ​swing coaching, we​ can ​ pass them ​along​​ to a PGA pro. 

“We provide encouragement, a sense of community and inclusion. That’s what keeps people in the game.” 

The object of this specific Rule (Rule 4) is two-fold. First, to expand the wide end of the funnel to welcome more people, from more demographic segments, into the game.  Second, to provide support and guidance to beginners from more experienced golfers who, in the case of Iron Lady Golf, look like them, i.e, female. 

 “This can be inspirational,” says McKenna. “To see an accomplished amateur or pro who is a woman means a lot and the comfort level goes up exponentially, especially for a beginner.”

For Knowlton, this Rules change is literally game-changing. And, she says, “it’s proof Golf Canada and the PGA​ of Canada​ are 100-per-cent committed to growing the game in Canada.” 

Do you have a program you think would qualify? The modernized Rules of Amateur Status with helpful guidance note are available here.

Have a Rules questions? Contact our experts.

First Tee

First Tee celebrates 25 years of empowering youth through golf 

Twenty-five years ago, on November 13, 1997, then-PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem was joined in New York City’s Central Park by representatives from the leading golf organizations – the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, the PGA TOUR, and the USGA – public officials, including President George H. W. Bush, and golf dignitaries to announce the launch of First Tee. 

Since that time, First Tee has grown into a preeminent youth development organization boasting a network of nearly 150 chapters with programs delivered at 1,400 golf courses, 10,000 schools and 1,700 youth centers in all 50 states and in Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Morocco. In 2021, First Tee impacted more than 2.2 million kids and teens. Additionally, more than 10,000 adults are involved each year in support of First Tee’s mission, many of whom have participated in First Tee’s signature positive youth development training. 

LEARN ABOUT FIRST TEE – CANADA

Under the leadership of Finchem, First Tee was launched as an industrywide initiative to make golf affordable and accessible for all kids. As the first programs were being developed, First Tee began an intentional effort to seamlessly integrate the game of golf with a life skills curriculum, creating a program that empowers youth to build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that they can carry to everything they do. 

First Tee has been undergoing a modernization effort to stay relevant and connected to kids and teens now and in the future. It refreshed its brand for the first time in 2020 and recently released a robust age-based curriculum update to better position the organization to reach teens and keep kids engaged in the program longer. Technology efforts are also underway to centralize and better support program registration, adult training and onboarding, and tools for coaches. In 

2023, the first participant-facing app will launch, providing supplemental digital experiences and gamification for young people in the program. In recent years, the organization also reinvested in its College Scholarship Program, and it touches hundreds of kids each year through national participant events, spanning from the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach to a five-day DEI-focused academy in Philadelphia. 

“Since day one, First Tee has been intentional about reaching young people from diverse backgrounds, and that commitment continues today,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “Most years, between 40 and 50 percent of participants at chapters are non-Caucasian, and approximately 38% are female. Our network of chapter leaders, coaches, volunteers, board members and donors remain committed to breaking down barriers. And they continue to inspire me as we prepare for the future.” 

Throughout this anniversary year, First Tee has highlighted its alumni who’ve gone on to careers in the golf industry and beyond. First Tee’s final alumni feature showcases Ariana Saenz, a former participant at First Tee – Greater Houston, who went on to play collegiate golf at the University of Houston and Texas A&M. Saenz is set to graduate with a master’s degree in human resources later this year and hopes to pursue a career in the golf industry. 

“From age seven to 18, I was exposed to a set of morals and life skills at First Tee that poured the foundation for the woman I am today,” said Saenz. “Along the way, I earned a college golf scholarship and went from being a participant to a volunteer who learned the value of giving back to the community and serving others.” 

Nov. 16-18, representatives from First Tee’s network of 150 chapters will convene in Dallas for its Network Summit – the first in five years – to celebrate the anniversary and continue building momentum for the future with robust workshops, training and peer-to-peer networking. The Summit is presented by Century Golf Partners and made possible by other corporate partners who stand behind First Tee’s mission. 

First Tee

Just the Beginning for First Tee – Ontario

The short game for First Tee programming may be rooted in golf, but the long game is much more than that. The main objective of First Tee – Canada youth development programming is for participants to use the life skills learned through golf to navigate their journeys through life and opportunities thought previously inaccessible.

Golf Canada launched its partnership with First Tee in 2020, and First Tee – Canada began in 2021 under the operation of its provincial chapters, delivering programming at golf facilities, schools, and community centres.

With summer programs wrapped up, First Tee – Ontario fall programming is underway at 20 locations across the province with curriculums developed for each environment and modified to different ages and abilities.

The activities use golf as a vehicle to reinforce life skills, focused on the program’s five key commitments: pursuing goals, growing through challenge, collaborating with others, building positive self-identity, and using good judgement. First Tee – Ontario provides instructors with interactive training, equipment, and turnkey lesson plans to deliver safe and inclusive programming.

jalani morgan/ golf canada

Golf Canada’s commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusivity in golf is a driving force behind the growth of First Tee – Canada and its provincial chapters. The aim is to break down existing barriers to sport participation, particularly in traditionally marginalized communities, and ultimately diversify golf’s participant pool to more closely reflect the strength of Canada’s multiculturalism.

First Tee – Ontario Program Manager Amaya Athill is responsible for overseeing the implementation of programming across the province and having a hand in providing youth with empowering and life-changing experiences. At this year’s RBC Canadian Open, her team provided an extended experience for First Tee – Ontario community program participants from local Boys and Girls Clubs to show them what life on and off the tee box can look like.

“The messaging that children often see is that a successful career pathway in sports is to rise to the level of a professional competitor. There is so much that goes into running a professional golf tournament and event of that size, so the idea was to expose as many children as possible to a wider world of opportunities and careers within golf and the sports industry. This included behind-the-scenes tours of the agronomy, media, and volunteer services teams,” said Athill. “Access to these experiences and exposure to future opportunities in the sport is a gap we hope to bridge through First Tee.”

As both an accomplished human rights lawyer and golfer since the age of five, Athill’s professional background and personal relationship with the game intersect seamlessly with the First Tee program, as they all value accessibility and opportunity.

“This is just the beginning of First Tee – Ontario’s impact,” said Athill. “We look forward to making more connections with schools, coaches, and community centres, and providing more youth with access to golf, as well as inspiring experiences and opportunities.”

With Ontario’s chapter experiencing rapid short-term growth, Ian Gragtmans – First Tee – Ontario’s Founding Chapter Donor and Trustee – expressed excitement about recent strides and confidence that the Gragtmans Family Foundation’s decision to support this cause was the correct one.

His decision to support the launch of the program was less influenced by the game of golf, but rather by a desire to help support the long-term development journeys of First Tee program participants.

“It’s not just about the golf, it has everything to do with helping those that were underrepresented, and giving younger people a chance,” said Gragtmans. “I want to help those that probably don’t have a chance of coming out of whatever challenging time they’re going through.”

With the help of generous donors like the Gragtmans Family Foundation, Golf Canada has fast-tracked access to these spaces where youth can learn self-sustaining life skills in a program that has over 25 years of international experience.

Gragtmans shared his personal experience engaging people who were direct participants of First Tee in the U.S. 

“I have been fortunate enough to spend time in the U.S. – meeting and speaking with some of the participants that have gone through the program, and it’s nothing shy of remarkable to see what the potential is for those that may not otherwise, if not for First Tee, had that opportunity, or exposure,” said Gragtmans.  

The Golf Canada Foundation is continuously pursuing gifts, which allow First Tee – Ontario to expand its locations across the province and further impact the lives of Canadian youth. To get involved, please visit www.firstteeontario.ca.

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First Tee

Golf Canada receives funding from Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities in support of First Tee – Canada

Generous contribution by Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities will help provide accessible golf opportunities for equity-deserving youth across Canada.

TORONTO, August 2022 – Golf Canada is proud to receive funding from Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities (Jumpstart) in support of First Tee – Canada.

The generous contribution from Jumpstart will support the national rollout of First Tee – Canada, with a focus on engaging underserved communities. Since launching in 2021, there are more than 80 First Tee program locations across Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces.

First Tee – Canada provides youth aged five to 18 with affordable access to learn the fundamental skills of golf while reinforcing the life skills and values learned through sport. First Tee programming is delivered at schools, community centres, and golf facilities with curriculums and coach training specifically designed for each of these environments.

Jumpstart’s contribution will support First Tee – Canada program locations in equity-deserving communities across the country. Funds will be directed towards providing equipment, training, signage, and other materials to support the progression of participating youth from community centre programming to their local golf course.

Since 2005, Jumpstart has helped youth across Canada overcome financial and accessibility barriers to sport and recreation.

Jumpstart is proud to be a part of First Tee – Canada’s growth and its positive influence within communities across the country.

“Jumpstart is proud to support Golf Canada in building greater equity and diversity in golf,” said Scott Fraser, President of Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. “Jumpstart believes every child deserves access to sport. By supporting the national rollout of First Tee – Canada, children from equity-deserving communities will have the opportunity to build their skills, self-confidence, and social connections through the game.”

Together, First Tee – Canada and Jumpstart will put more clubs into the hands of Canadian youth and empower them to reap the benefits of sport.

“We are fortunate to share with Jumpstart the common goal of advocating for youth and enriching their lives through sport,” said Adam Hunter, Director of Grow the Game for Golf Canada. “Jumpstart’s funding will accelerate the growth of our youth development program towards the goal of evolving golf participation demographics to more closely reflect Canada’s multiculturalism.”

As a not-for-profit program, First Tee – Canada and its positive impact on communities would not be possible without the generous support of organizations like Jumpstart.

“Jumpstart is a national leader in advocating for youth and championing the value of sport. We are extremely grateful to them for providing meaningful support and sharing our vision of Building Game Changers across Canada,” said Martin Barnard, CEO of the Golf Canada Foundation. “The pace of growth and philanthropic commitment behind First Tee – Canada since launching has been incredible. It is an exciting time for junior golf in Canada and we cannot wait to see what the future holds.”

Golf Canada Foundation is the funding partner for First Tee – Canada, drawing on an extensive national donor network to fund programming and major gift Trustees to launch chapters across the country.

With over 25 years of operation, First Tee has grown into an international network that has positively impacted more than 15 million young people, comprising over 150 chapters and more than 1,200 program locations across the United States, as well as six international chapters. Golf Canada joined forces with First Tee in 2020, and First Tee – Canada was born.

Golf Canada and the Golf Canada Foundation are continuously pursuing corporate partners and gifts which allow for more chapters and program locations to launch in Canada. For more information on how to get involved, or to donate to First Tee – Canada, visit www.firstteecanada.ca.

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About First Tee – Canada

First Tee – Canada is a non-profit youth development program operating under Golf Canada since 2020. In partnership with First Tee, Golf Canada launched First Tee – Canada to provide educational programs that build character and instill life-enhancing values through the game of golf. First Tee – Canada continues to expand programming and engage youth at golf courses, schools, and community centres in deserving regions across the country.

For more information and to learn how to support First Tee – Canada, visit firstteecanada.ca.

About Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities is a national charity committed to ensuring kids in need have equal access to sport and recreation. With an extensive, national network of more than 1,000 grantees and 289 local chapters, Jumpstart helps eligible families cover the costs of registration, transportation, and equipment, and provides funding to selected organizations for recreational infrastructure and programming. Supported by Canadian Tire Corporation, Jumpstart has provided more than 2.7 million opportunities for Canadian kids to get in the game since 2005. For more information, visit jumpstart.canadiantire.ca.

Follow Jumpstart on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to learn how the Charity is giving kids across Canada a sporting chance.

About Golf Canada Foundation

The Golf Canada Foundation is the leading source of golf philanthropy in Canada, granting more than $12 million to golf programs since 2012, and $13.4 million invested in the sport since the Foundation’s inception in 1979. The foundation’s mission is to support and promote programs that increase participation in golf by engaging players of all ages and abilities across Canada. For more information about what the Golf Canada Foundation is doing to support golf in communities across the country, visit www.golfcanadafoundation.com

About Golf Canada

Golf Canada is the National Sports Federation and governing body for golf in Canada, representing more than 304,000 golfers and 1,435 member clubs across the country. A proud member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Golf Canada’s vision is to be a world leader in golf and to achieve the mission to increase Canadian participation and excellence. For more information about what Golf Canada is doing to support golf in your community, visit www.golfcanada.ca.

Media Contact:

Madelyn Boelhouwer | Senior Coordinator, Marketing and Communications, First Tee – Canada | Golf Canada | 905-467-6086 | mboelhouwer@golfcanada.ca

First Tee

Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games Showcases First Tee – Ontario

28th edition of the Canada Games helps introduce First Tee – Ontario, youth-focused golf and life skill development programming, to the Niagara Region.

NIAGARA, August 2022 – The Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games are pleased to support and collaborate with Golf Canada and the Ontario chapter of First Tee – Canada to further enrich youth in the Niagara Region.

The 2022 Canada Games take place from August 6th to the 21st, welcoming over 5,000 young athletes and coaches to compete for the podium in Canada’s largest multi-sport event. Niagara 2022’s golf competition will take place at the beautiful and challenging Legends on the Niagara’s
Battlefield Course with practice rounds on August 15th and 16th followed by four competition rounds from August 17th to 20th. Ten provinces and one territory will compete in teams of two boys and two girls for both team and individual medals. Golf Canada will conduct the competition along with a team of 2022 Canada Games staff and volunteers.

On Tuesday (August 16), First Tee – Ontario invited a group of local children to Legends on the Niagara Golf Course to join a day of fun activities. The group participated in a First Tee golf clinic using the driving range and practice green and got the special opportunity to walk alongside an
athlete as their “honourary caddie” for one hole during practice rounds.

The activation provided an opportunity for children and families to learn more about what the game of golf has to offer through First Tee – Ontario, and for youth to witness first-hand the endless opportunities available to them in the world of sport.

The Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games promote community development, youth advocacy, and sport development. The Niagara 2022 Host Society is excited to support a like-minded program such as First Tee – Ontario.

“We are proud to share our platform with, and spread awareness of, First Tee – Ontario,” said Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games Sport Lead Tracy Murphy. “This is a program that aligns with our values and provides youth with the opportunity to experience and reap all the benefits sports have to offer. We look forward to a long-term collaboration with First Tee – Ontario and wish the program success and prosperity in the Niagara Region, and beyond.”

First Tee – Ontario is delivered at golf facilities, schools, and community centres with curriculum and coach training specifically designed for each of these environments, providing youth aged five to 18 with affordable access to learn fundamental golf skills, and life skills and values developed through sport.

Programming began in late 2021. To date, there are 11 First Tee – Ontario program locations across the province, two of which are in the Niagara Region. Locations are primarily chosen to engage with equity-deserving groups and under-served communities.

“We are grateful for the support and excitement from Canada Games. The positive impact that First Tee can make within communities would not be possible without our generous and supportive network,” said Golf Canada’s Grow the Game Director, Adam Hunter. “We hope the group had fun, learned something about sports, or themselves, and went home with a smile on their face. That’s what First Tee – Canada is about, providing youth with an inclusive space to feel empowered through sport.”

Golf Canada joined forces with First Tee in 2020, and First Tee – Canada was born. There are currently more than 80 program locations operating under provincial chapters in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and the Atlantic regions. As the program grows, First Tee – Ontario continues to pursue new program locations.

For more information on how to get involved, or become a program location, please visit firstteeontario.ca/ or contact Amaya Athill aathill@golfcanada.ca.


About the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games
At the peak of Niagara’s boldest summer yet, more than 5,000 up-and-coming athletes, their coaches and support staff will gather in the Niagara Region to compete for the podium in Canada’s largest multi-sport event. From August 6 to 21, 2022, Niagara will surge stronger than ever on the national stage. The 2022 Canada Games, made possible thanks to funding and support from the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the Niagara Region, and the Canada Games Council, will give rise to new
legacies of ambition, confidence, and compassion that will inspire generations to come.

For further information, visit us at niagara2022games.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@2022canadagames).

About First Tee – Canada  
First Tee – Canada is a non-profit youth development program operated by Golf Canada since 2020. In partnership with First Tee, Golf Canada launched First Tee – Canada to provide educational programs that build character and instill life-enhancing values for youth through the game of golf. First Tee – Canada continues to expand programming and engage youth at golf courses, schools, and community centres in deserving regions across the country.  

For more information and to learn how to support First Tee – Canada, visit firstteecanada.ca.

For media inquiries, please contact Madelyn Boelhouwer mboelhouwer@golfcanada.ca.

First Tee

For Every Flower That Blooms: First Tee – BC and Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy

Pathways to success often depend on access to experiences and opportunities. Unfortunately, across Canada, many children all too often lack the resources or access to empowering extracurricular activities, such as sports or organized recreation.

Knowing the positive impact that sport can have on a child’s life, Golf Canada’s junior programming through First Tee strives to break down barriers to accessing the game of golf. First Tee – Canada provides inclusive youth development activities to participants as young as five years old, using golf as a vehicle to support the personal growth and confidence of children.  

First Tee – Canada programming is offered at golf courses, schools, and community centres in regions across the country with specifically designed curriculum and instructor training for each of these impactful learning environments.

On traditional Musqueam First Nation territory alongside the Fraser River lies The Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy. This tree-lined golf course and driving range [in/near Vancouver, B.C.] is home to First Tee – British Columbia.

The delivery of First Tee – BC programming at Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy began in the fall of 2021 and despite the program’s infancy, there has been an outpouring of positive feedback from the community.

“These kids have been using golf as an outlet, (and) feel a sense of inclusion and safety at the golf course,” says Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy General Manager Kumi Kimura. “They never knew how much fun golf was and that it [can] help as a healthy escape from [a sometimes] not so healthy world.”

Registration for 12 participant spots fills up quickly. The hour-long sessions are grouped by age, varying from seven to 12, and coached by PGA of Canada professional Kelvin Ko and First-Tee Certified Coach Jody Kinsman. Along with learning the fundamental skills of golf, children experience the opportunity to develop or further reinforce many of the life skills and values learned through sport.

Kimura shared a personal story of the opportunity First Tee – BC presented to siblings participating in the program—children who were dealing with familial troubles at home and seeking a positive outlet.

“(To) get out of the house, and still be together as siblings, they found refuge here. They fell for the game… I knew this was not something the kids could afford, however, through First Tee activities, we are beginning to support their development and provide for them as a community.”

For some children, sport can the mean the world; a positive escape where individuals learn about themselves, build confidence, understand commitment, and develop healthy habits—all values worth carrying for life. Together with the support and generosity of donors, First Tee – BC and Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy have introduced the sport of golf to children who might not have otherwise experienced the game.

PHOTO CREDIT: MUSQUEAMGOLF

Golf has often battled a perception that the game is exclusive to the affluent. By creating “hubs” consisting of schools, community centres, and accessible golf courses within a small radius, First Tee – Canada is working to debunk that perception, one community at a time. And with a strong philanthropic community of donors supporting First Tee – Canada, many program locations provide equipment and offer registration at no cost.

In striving to be a world leader in the sport, Golf Canada is committed to changing the face of golf to better reflect the multicultural strength of the Canadian population. First Tee – Canada is providing opportunities, relationships, and experiences for children that are laying the foundation for a more diverse game.

“I believe these are stories that need to be told,” says Kimura. “Golf is no longer an elitist game, but a game for all people, in the good time and the bad.”

The relationship that First Tee – BC has created with the Musqueam community, and the positive impact on participants is a testament to the power of sport, and better yet, the future legacy of First Tee – Canada. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Colby Johannson

The program’s impact on youth is reflective of the facility’s impact in its community. The name Musqueam relates back to the flowering plant, məθkʷəy̓, which grows in the Fraser River estuary. Like flowers, children grow and develop in different ways, in a healthy, safe, enriching environment.

By virtue of the land, the collaborative efforts of First Tee – BC, Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy and the game of golf, for every flower that blooms this summer, a child will too.

For more information on how to donate to First Tee – British Columbia, please visit firstteebc.ca.

First Tee

First Tee – Canada: Producing better golfers and better people

Kevin Blue doesn’t hesitate when asked to provide his best “elevator pitch” about the First Tee—Canada program. (An elevator pitch is a concise, easy-to-understand summary of a concept.)

“First Tee—Canada will provide a welcoming environment for kids from all Canadian backgrounds to learn golf and the associated life skills that go along with the sport,” says Blue, Golf Canada’s Chief Sport Officer.

Since its unveiling in August 2020, First Tee—Canada’s purpose of “Building Game Changers” doesn’t only refer to the game of golf.

“First Tee introduces the game of golf and its inherent values to young people,” the program launch press release stated. “Through after-school and in-school programs, we help shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect and perseverance.

“Our mission is to impact the lives of youth by providing educational programs that build character, promote life-enhancing values and healthy choices through the game of golf. In collaboration with the PGA of Canada, First Tee—Canada instills character development as a fundamental element of Golf Canada’s junior golf program.”

It’s long overdue, but golf has recently taken an assertive approach to increase equity and inclusivity in the game. First Tee—Canada focuses on creating welcoming introductory experiences to golf for youth, with particular emphasis on reaching communities that have been traditionally underrepresented in the sport. The possibilities are endless, and PGA of Canada CEO Kevin Thistle is excited about it.

Thistle says First Tee—Canada provides PGA members with an incredible opportunity to “deliver this amazing platform to a diverse range of young golfers and to dispel many of the stereotypes that have traditionally been associated with golf. This (program) is the perfect vehicle because it aligns so perfectly with our association’s values.”

Harold Varner III, who recently finished in the top 25 in his Masters debut, is an ambassador for RBC Community Junior Golf in support of First Tee – Canada. RBC, in partnership with Golf Canada, will implement First Tee – Canada programming at municipal and publicly accessible golf courses across the country. First Tee locations supported by RBC Community Junior Golf are chosen with a purposeful lens, focused on building greater diversity and equity in golf, thus creating “hubs” of accessible public golf courses, schools, and community centres in underserved communities. 

Harold Varner III First Tee - Canada
Jeff Vogan/ Golf Canada

“I understand the positive impact sport can have on a young person’s life. It can open doors and present opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available,” said Varner.

Still, in its relative infancy, First Tee – Canada is rolling out gradually in communities across the country. The goal is to launch First Tee – Canada Chapters in every region of the country by the end of 2022 and to enroll 100,000 participants in First Tee programming by 2024. Current chapters in operation include British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

As with most nonprofit programs, expansion is dependent on funding. Since the program launched, more than $8M in pledges have been raised in support of First Tee – Canada including major chapter-founding gifts to jump-start the program.

“First Tee—Canada is funded largely through philanthropic contributions,” Blue emphasizes. “It is dependent on the generosity of individuals and companies. It’s really gratifying to see how many have stepped up because they believe in diversifying the sport.”

Since its inception in 1997 in the United States, 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.

The network has grown to more than 150 chapters and more than 1,200 program locations across the U.S. as well as international chapters in Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco and now Canada.

First Tee - Canada

While the all-encompassing program is centred around golf, that activity is just part of the experience aimed at strengthening character by teaching life skills that will last forever. These include understanding and managing emotions, resolving conflicts, setting up step-by-step goals, planning for their future, and appreciating diversity.

First Tee—Canada is open to youth of all ages and skill levels. Kids as young as five are welcome to participate. The goal is, after being introduced to the program, juniors will advance through various stages of the program up until 18, where they will begin to set goals around career and education.

First Tee programming will be delivered at schools, community centres, and golf courses with specifically designed curriculum and coach training for each of these environments. The PGA of Canada’s robust training framework ensures all Canadian coaches are well equipped to deliver First Tee.

First Tee—Canada may help develop better golfers in the future but, much more importantly, it will give us better people.

Golf Canada and the Golf Canada Foundation continue to work with prospective donors who wish to support First Tee nationwide programming. For more information on First Tee—Canada, how to get involved or to donate, visit www.firstteecanada.ca

First Tee Media Release

RBC Community Junior Golf supports First Tee – Canada and Youth on Course to build greater diversity and inclusivity in the sport

Today, RBC announced the first wave of publicly accessible golf courses selected to join RBC Community Junior Golf, a new initiative designed to build greater diversity and inclusivity in golf by creating affordable access to the sport for youth in underrepresented communities across Canada.

In partnership with Golf Canada, RBC Community Junior Golf will support the implementation of the First Tee – Canada and Youth on Course programs at municipal or publicly accessible golf courses, with the goal of engaging 15 facilities in 2022. The courses were selected based on accessibility to local public transit as well as proximity to community centres, with an intentional focus on regional and diverse representation.

By 2023, RBC Community Junior Golf is expected to engage more than 10,000 young people by delivering free First Tee programming, which teaches life lessons through the game of golf, as well as $5 Youth on Course green fees to select Canadian courses across the country.

RBC Community Junior Golf First Tee - Canada
Jeff Vogan/ Golf Canada

RBC Community Junior Golf locations:

· Chedoke Golf Club – Hamilton, ON

· Club de Golf Municipal Dallaire – Rouyn-Noranda, QC

· Club de Golf Les Rivières – Trois-Rivières, QC

· Humber Valley Golf Course – Etobicoke, ON

· Legends on the Niagara – Niagara, ON

· Mill River Golf Course – Woodstock, PEI

· Peel Village Golf Course – Brampton, ON

· Tam O’Shanter Golf Course – Scarborough, ON

· Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course – Brantford, ON

· Whitewater Golf Club – Thunder Bay, ON

“As a long-standing supporter of golf and an advocate for youth, RBC is proud to bring RBC Community Junior Golf to life,” said Shannon Cole, Vice President, Brand Marketing, RBC. “We believe that sport has the power to build character, teach valuable life lessons, and provide opportunities for young people to grow, and we are excited to work with Golf Canada to provide First Tee and Youth on Course programming across the country.”

Canadian youth ages five to 18 years can benefit from programming at one of the ten participating golf courses. RBC Community Junior Golf participating facilities will work with community centres or schools in their local area to register youth participants. For more details, visit the RBC Community Junior Golf website: https://www.golfcanada.ca/rbcjrgolf.

Golf Canada is grateful to have a like-minded partner in RBC with a shared intentional focus to increase access to junior golf, especially for youth from backgrounds that historically have been underserved.

“The enthusiasm from RBC to advance the sport and provide funding to introduce the game to a diverse range of young golfers at municipal and especially publicly accessible facilities has been extraordinary,” said Kevin Blue, Chief Sport Officer, Golf Canada. “RBC Community Junior Golf will accelerate the delivery of First Tee programming across the country and with RBC’s support, golf will be a vehicle to foster life skills and positively impact Canadian youth from all backgrounds.”

PGA TOUR professional golfer and Team RBC ambassador Harold Varner III serves as an advisor for RBC Community Junior Golf and helped launch the initiative at Humber Valley Golf Course in Toronto – a participating location – last September. He was joined by youth from the Rexdale Boys and Girls Club, where he offered advice and guidance for reaching one’s potential both on and off the course. Learn more about the launch event and Harold’s and RBC’s vision at RBC Stories.

Harold Varner III RBC Community Junior Golf First Tee - Canada
Jeff Vogan/ Golf Canada

“RBC Community Junior Golf will give many kids who don’t currently have access, the opportunity to play golf and experience all of the benefits associated with the game,” said Harold Varner III, Team RBC ambassador. “I’ve always been passionate about introducing young people to golf, and I’m excited to champion this initiative that will provide youth across Canada with an equal opportunity to play the sport I love.”

One of the important ways RBC brings its Purpose of helping clients thrive and communities prosper to life is by empowering young people. RBC Future Launch is the bank’s $500 million commitment to help Canadian youth prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, including $50 million in focused funding to create meaningful and transformative pathways to prosperity for 25,000 BIPOC youth by 2025. In addition, through the RBC Heritage and RBC Canadian Open tournaments, RBC has helped raise over $35 million in support of local charities in Canada and the United States.

To learn more about RBC Community Junior Golf in support of First Tee and Youth on Course, visit golfcanada.ca/rbcjrgolf.

First Tee

12 Days of Golf in support of First Tee – Ontario

The 2021 edition of 12 Days of Golf in support of First Tee – Ontario will run until December 13th.

This online auction, in support of growth of the First Tee’s Ontario chapter in 2022, will see funds helping to expand program locations, coach training, and equipment.  

We believe all kids deserve to be excited to grow, feel safe to fail, and be better equipped for whatever comes at them next. Using golf to teach life lessons and leadership skills, First Tee helps youth develop their swing, but more importantly, their inner strength; self confidence, and resilience to become good golfers and even better people.

Last year’s auction raised over $17,000 and we are hoping to surpass this total for 2021.

The auction features a mix of high-profile special items, one-of-a-kind experiences, and foursome certificates to clubs around Ontario. Click the link below to check out the auction and support this worthy cause.

12 Days of Golf in support of First Tee – Ontario AUCTION

First Tee Media Release

Gragtmans Family Foundation makes $1M USD gift to First Tee – Canada

Inspired to support the life skills and development values ingrained in golf, the Gragtmans Family Foundation has announced a major $1M USD donation to the Golf Canada Foundation to directly power the advancement of First Tee – Canada.

The generosity of the Gragtmans Family Foundation as the Founding Donor and Trustee of First Tee – Ontario will fund and facilitate the provincial chapter launch including program development and delivery with multi-faceted activities designed for schools, community centres, and youth facilities.

First Tee – Canada will provide Canadian youth, and especially those in underrepresented groups, access to affordable and meaningful character education programs through golf. Golf Canada intends on launching chapters in every province in Canada by 2022, with the goal of 100,000 annual participants in the program by 2023.

“The Gragtmans Family Foundation focuses on the positive development and advancement of youth in Canada and abroad,” said Ian Gragtmans, Founder of the Gragtmans Family Foundation. “We are thrilled to be aligned with one of the world’s premiere and proven international youth development organizations. Our mission of providing youth with support to help positively design and advance their lives aligns well with the First Tee values of integrity, respect and perseverance.” A pursuer of growth and knowledge, Mr. Gragtmans credits many who have and continue to act as mentors, and his support of First Tee Canada directly reflects the ongoing responsibility of giving back by helping others.

“The pace of growth behind First Tee – Canada since being announced in Fall 2020 has been incredible, and that’s because of the shared vision of youth champions like the Gragtmans Family Foundation,” said Golf Canada Chief Sport Officer Kevin Blue. “The generosity of the Gragtmans Family Foundation towards this provincial chapter-founding, multi-year gift brings incredible momentum to our national youth development program in Canada’s largest market and will surely set the example and encourage deeper expansion across the Canadian philanthropic community.”

Through its deep network of donors and trustees, Golf Canada Foundation is a critical partner in supporting the launch and advancement of First Tee Canada through its fundraising and philanthropic efforts. Canada’s Provincial Golf Associations will also play a role in the advancement of First Tee Canada as chapters form in markets across Canada.

“We are extremely grateful to Ian Gragtmans and the Gragtmans Family Foundation for their incredible generosity as the catalyst to officially launch the first Ontario chapter of First Tee Canada,” said Golf Canada Foundation CEO Martin Barnard. “The meaningful support of our donors and corporate champions has far exceeded our early expectations and has provided real momentum in our discussion with others who want to get behind this character building program for youth.”

The generosity of the Gragtmans Family Foundation joins a growing number of chapter-founding and program advancement gifts that have been secured in 2021 with additional investments to be announced in the coming weeks.

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. The First Tee network has grown to over 150 chapters and more than 1,200 program locations across the United States as well as six international chapters in Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, and Canada, delivering programs that help young people build character and develop life skills through the game of golf.

Golf Canada and the Golf Canada Foundation are continuously pursuing more gifts, which will allow more chapters to launch in Canada. For more information on First Tee – Canada, to get involved, or to donate, visit www.firstteecanada.ca