Temperatures may have escalated into the high 80s on Sunday afternoon, but that didn’t stop the more than two dozen young golfers from showing up to the William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park, the site of the MGA’s The First Tee of Massachusetts (TFTMA) final session of their spring season.
Led by a team of four coaches and additional volunteers, these young golfers from throughout the City of Boston were given instruction and the opportunity to learn some of the fundamentals to the game of golf.
Sunday was the fifth and final session of the spring for The First Tee of Massachusetts Program hosted at Franklin Park – one of five hosts sites throughout the Bay State that focuses on teaching the game of golf to the next generation of players.
CLICK HERE to read an article about the program expansion into the City of Boston which appeared in the 2015 fall issue of MassGolfer magazine.
With Sunday’s lesson primarily focused on “Pre-Shot Routine,” each of the golfers, aged 7-14, were taught the basics on how to approach a shot – basics that included footwork, tactic and follow through. After a quick classroom-like discussion that allowed the young golfers to take notes on mini white boards, the groups grabbed their clubs and took to Franklin Park’s practice facility, where they could put their newly acquired knowledge to work.
Equipped with hundreds of rubber practice balls, the young golfers, separated into smaller groups each with its own instructor, were able to practice their pre-shot routine at each of the four designated stations – driving, chipping, putting and lofting.
For Jim Tobin, one of the program’s lead coaches, the opportunity to teach these kids has been fantastic. And in only the second year of existence at the Franklin Park site, the response he has received has been more than he could have imagined.
“The response from the kids has been really positive,” said Tobin, whose wife Anne Marie will be one of six inductees into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame in October. “The response from the parents has been overwhelming. They’re so happy to see the opportunity for these kids. We had 1,637 kids [from within Boston] last summer and expect even more this summer.”
Tobin says that of the 1,637 kids who came through the program during the 2015 season, many have returned for additional lessons this past spring, while others are signed up for both the 2016 summer and fall sessions.
“It was 1,637 kids who came through this program daily,” said Tobin. “A lot of them were returnees. That’s what we want. They’re returning. They’re enjoying it and they’re having fun.”
In addition to teaching golf, Tobin, a former golf professional of 31 years at Bellevue Golf Club , says one of the reasons it may be so popular is the fact that it teaches life skills – skills that can be applied both on and off the golf course. The TFTMA program, which is free for all City of Boston residents at the Franklin Park Golf Course, teaches each participant its nine core inherent values – honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
By using golf as a way to teach these lessons, Tobin says, “They are able to interpret life lessons and apply it to outside the golf course. They are learning these life skills without even realizing they are life skills.”
It’s all part of the TFTMA’s larger mission: “To impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, install life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”
In fact, this program has grown so large that in 2016, the decision was made to add two programs – one in the spring and one in the fall- in addition to the summer program, which is returning for its second year in July. Now, kids can remain involved in golf activities for three out of the four seasons.
Over the past several years, the City of Boston, the MGA and The First Tee of Massachusetts collaborated to make this opportunity possible at Franklin Park Golf Course.
It has quickly become the largest of the state’s five First Tee Programs and as the news get out, it is bound to grow.
“We could not be happier with the growth of this program and the incredible support that we have received from the City of Boston,” said Joe McCabe, executive director of The First Tee of Massachusetts. “We are also so grateful to the coaches and volunteers who have helped make this such a huge success for the program and who have made a positive impact on the participants.”
Starting on July 11, when Franklin Park’s eight-week summer program begins, the club will host two sessions each day, each lasting one and one half hours. In the afternoon, the club will then welcome various groups from around the city, including Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA’s and other citywide camps. All with the objective of teaching the game, and life values, to as many young golfers as possible.
In addition to Franklin Park, The First Tee of Massachusetts will be hosting youth clinics in Hyannis, Lynnfield, Norton and Springfield.
For information how to register for the program, visit the First Tee Massachusetts website at thefirstteemass.org.