The First Tee of the Upstate Builds Character Through the Game of Golf

During the first week of March 2017, the First Tee Programs of Greenville and Cherokee/Spartanburg announced that they would be joining forces to offer golf education programs to upstate youth through the First Tee of the Upstate partnership. Originally founded in 1997, the First Tee Network is a nonprofit organization that impacts roughly 50,000 young people every year.

The First Tee of Spartanburg is a nationally award-winning initiative with a mission of “impact[ing] the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.” The new partnership will be able to expand its reach to more children by enabling the organization to offer out-of-school programs, as well as in-school programs at 93 schools in Greenville, Spartanburg, and Cherokee Counties.  This spring, First Tee of the Upstate will host events at Woodfin Ridge, Willow Creek Golf Club and Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg County; Cherokee National Golf & Recreation Club in Cherokee County; and Carolina Golf Club at Botany Woods, Legacy Pines Golf Club, Carolina Springs Golf Club, and Green Valley Country Club in Greenville County. 

Michael Prius (pictured), a veteran of the First Tee Program and PGA professional, has been named Executive Director of the First Tee of the Upstate Program. Prius, who recently won the 2017 Youth Development Leadership Award for the Middle-Atlantic Section of the PGA of America, spent the last five years as the Senior Program Director for the First Tee of Washington, D.C. “The First Tee of the Upstate is fortunate to have so many wonderful resources at its finger-tips in terms of community support, beautiful golf courses, active junior golf development programs, successful and involved PGA TOUR players and caring corporate partners, that our organization has the potential to make a huge impact in the communities in which we serve,” said Pius.  “I look forward to getting out and meeting our program participants, their parents, and our supporters as we begin Spring programming.”  

First Tee of the Upstate is able to foster character and teamwork through the program’s nine core values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment.  According to Ron Rasmussen, Board President of The First Tee of the Upstate, “The Upstate of South Carolina continues to be one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and as our area continues its population growth, we made the strategic decision that by merging both of our organizations’ resources, we are better positioned to serve the youth of the Upstate now and in the future.”

Children from ages 6–18 are eligible to participate in The First Tee of the Upstate program.  Registration is available online here. Click here for opportunities to volunteer to assist with the program through coaching, fundraising, or other donations.  Golfers who would like to support the program while also getting a great deal on a day at the course can purchase a 2017 Golf Passport here.

All photos courtesy of The First Tee of the Upstate.

Angela Rogers is a teacher, bibliophile, and freelance writer who is a lifelong resident of the Upstate.