NORMAN — Since it was first introduced in Oklahoma in 2003, the First Tee has grown significantly. But it isn’t finished growing yet, and will take another step in the next year when the First Tee program will come Norman’s elementary schools.
David and Cheryl Lisle have spearheaded the program in Norman, and along with some area businessmen have worked to raise the money needed for the innovative program.
More than $20,000 was raised to purchase the start-up equipment, which is specially made for young children with safety in mind. Part of the physical education curriculum at Norman’s schools will be devoted to the program, which both teaches the basics of golf as well as larger lessons including personal responsibility and respect.
It’s the culmination of years of hard work by the Lisles, who brought the program to Norman in 2010 and have devoted much of their time to expanding it. More than 50 children participate in the program every Wednesday night at Westwood.
“Every other sport is introduced to children at a young age except for golf, but golf is the only sport they can play their entire lifetime,” Cheryl said. “We have a big heart for children and we want to see those who can’t make a team or who wouldn’t be exposed to golf for economic reasons have a chance to get out and learn the sport and have fun.”
With the introduction of the program into schools, the couple is excited to reach even more families.
“We wanted to make a difference in these kids’ lives,” David said. “We wanted to try in our own small way to give back and help grow the game of golf. But it’s not all about golf. When we started some kids were so in their shells, and by the end of the session they’re coming up to you and asking you how you’re doing, and they’re doing better at home or in school. It’s incredible to see that growth happen. This is going to be a hit.”
Norman isn’t the only place the program is expanding to this year. It’s also being introduced in metro Oklahoma City. For a single fee per school site, a 19 curricula plan, training for physical education teachers, and equipment is provided.
“Four schools in Oklahoma City were approved sites in the spring of 2013 and will fully implement the program in the fall,” said Debi Martin, executive director for the Oklahoma City First Tee chapter. “We want to expand our certifying program and fully implement the USGA/LPGA Girls program and the Boys program. Growth must be managed in a way to ensure maximum impact to students in the program. Additional playing opportunities are important to those students who want to fine tune their golf skills, more competitive play as well.”
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