Mike Weir Announced as First Tee – Canada Ambassador
Golf New Brunswick
Canadian golf icon and philanthropist to help foster donor relationships and support the advancement of First Tee programming for children and families across Canada
TORONTO, February 21, 2023 – Golf Canada and the Golf Canada Foundation are pleased to announce that Canadian Golf Hall of Famer and dedicated philanthropist Mike Weir has been named the first official First Tee – Canada ambassador.
As an ambassador for First Tee – Canada, Weir will support the program through attendance at fundraising events, helping to foster donor relationships, and broadening the reach of First Tee – Canada’s positive impact on children and families.
Born and raised in Bright’s Grove, Ont., the eight-time PGA TOUR winner and 2003 Masters champion has been a philanthropic supporter of Canadian youth for nearly 20 years through the charitable work of the Mike Weir Foundation.
First Tee – Canada provides affordable access to golf for youth across the country, striving to diversify and grow the game of golf to reflect the strengths of Canada’s multiculturalism more closely. Inclusive programming is delivered at golf courses, schools, and community centres introducing golf and providing life-enhancing experiences through sport to children.
“I am honoured to take on the role of First Tee – Canada ambassador,” said Weir. “Historically, golf has not been the most accessible sport for families to get involved with, and I am proud to be part of a program that is working with donors and community leaders to break down those barriers. My passion for golf and supporting children’s development is well aligned with the First Tee – Canada’s mission and I am excited to contribute wherever I can.”
“We are extremely proud to welcome Mike Weir as a First Tee – Canada ambassador,” said Golf Canada Chief Sport Officer Kevin Blue. “Mike has meant so much to Canadian golf and his altruism and charitable experience will help generate meaningful awareness of First Tee across the Canadian philanthropic community. We highly anticipate Mike’s ambassadorship adding to the continued advancement of the program, and its ability to positively impact Canadian youth.”
Weir, who took up the game at Huron Oaks near Sarnia, Ont. was recently named International Team Captain of the 2024 Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal Golf Club. As a philanthropist, the Mike Weir Foundation has raised over $8,000,000 for Canadian children’s charities since 2004.
Launched in 2020 with the generous support of the Golf Canada Foundation and its network of donors, First Tee – Canada has operating chapters in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, the Atlantic region, and a newly launched Prairies region. With programming in schools, at community centres, and at golf courses, Golf Canada’s goal is to welcome 100,000 First Tee – Canada participants by 2024.
Rules of Amateur Status changes will help introduce the game to underserved demographics
Golf New Brunswick
“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.
“When 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.
First Tee celebrates 25 years of empowering youth through golf
Golf New Brunswick
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Golf Canada receives funding from Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities in support of First Tee – Canada
Golf New Brunswick
By: Maddy Boelhouwer
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.
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.
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.
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.
Madelyn Boelhouwer | Senior Coordinator, Marketing and Communications, First Tee – Canada | Golf Canada | 905-467-6086 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games Showcases First Tee – Ontario
Golf New Brunswick
By: Maddy Boelhouwer
28th edition of the Canada Games helps introduce First Tee – Ontario, youth-focused golf and life skilldevelopment 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.
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.
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 Every Flower That Blooms: First Tee – BC and Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy
Golf New Brunswick
By: Maddy Boelhouwer
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gragtmans Family Foundation makes $1M USD gift to First Tee – Canada
Golf New Brunswick
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
Golf Canada partners with First Tee to establish First Tee – Canada
Global youth development program will launch in 2021 with a goal to open regional chapters across Canada through 2023
PGA of Canada to lead the national training of coaches to introduce First Tee youth development curriculum; Golf Canada Foundation will drive the advancement of the First Tee – Canada local chapters
Launch of First Tee – Canada coincides with selection of Royal Montreal Golf Club as host of the 2024 Presidents Cup; Quebec chapter of First Tee – Canada will be a legacy of the biennial competition
OAKVILLE, Ont. – Golf Canada and First Tee announced today a new partnership to launch First Tee – Canada. First Tee’s Board Chairman, PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, shared the news during a global announcement that Presidents Cup will return to Royal Montreal Golf Club in 2024.
Together, the partnership will bring First Tee’s youth development emphasis to strengthen Golf Canada’s junior golf activities – previously conducted under the Future Links brand – that reach kids in schools and at golf facilities. The innovative First Tee curriculum will focus on empowering young people to build their strength of character through the game of golf. Golf Canada will serve as the national headquarters of First Tee – Canada.
“Partnering with First Tee towards the 2021 launch of First Tee – Canada will provide Canadian youth and especially those in underrepresented groups access to affordable and meaningful character education programs through golf,” said Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum. “Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada have developed a strong foundation for junior golf programming over the past twenty plus years through Future Links. We are excited going forward to partner with the globally recognized First Tee brand and work collaboratively with the Golf Canada Foundation to strengthen our youth development activities.”
“Golf Canada has made a significant impact on the growth of the sport in Canada through their multi-faceted junior golf initiatives and was a natural fit for us to partner with the launch of First Tee – Canada,” said Greg McLaughlin, CEO, First Tee. “Together, we will bring the First Tee youth development program nationwide and build on Golf Canada’s impressive grassroots success with programming that reaches kids via nearly 600 golf facilities and 4,100 participating schools.”
The PGA of Canada will play a leading role in the training of coaches who will serve as mentors to the kids and teens in the program. Coaches will help bring the curriculum to life by introducing youth to fun and active experiences that help them build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that can carry to everything they do.
“We are proud that PGA of Canada professionals will play an important role in utilizing golf to teach First Tee core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, judgement and courtesy,” said Kevin Thistle, CEO of PGA of Canada. “We look forward to supporting the development of youth and junior golfers through the coaching and mentorship of PGA of Canada professionals in alignment with the National Coaching Certification Program.”
First Tee – Canada will target to launch multiple chapters in 2021 with a growth strategy to establish First Tee chapters in markets across Canada through 2023. The inaugural First Tee – Canada chapter launching in 2021 will be located in Victoria, British Columbia at the Bear Mountain Golf & Tennis Resort Community which is also home to Golf Canada’s National Training Centre. This was made possible by the support of the Matthews and Kusumoto families. Dan Matthews is a global Trustee and a member of the Board of Governors of the First Tee and a member of the Board of Directors of the Golf Canada Foundation. A First Tee chapter in Quebec will also be launched shortly thereafter, continuing the incredible legacy of past Presidents Cups. With support from the Presidents Cup, First Tee has successfully launched global chapters in Australia (2019) and Korea (2015).
Through its deep network of donors and trustees, Golf Canada Foundation will be 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 begin to form in markets across Canada. In addition, Golf Canada will continue to work with the NGCOA Canada (National Golf Course Owner’s Association) and other key industry stakeholders towards a more inclusive golf experience for Canadian youth.
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—Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco and Canada—delivering programs that help young people build character and develop life skills through the game of golf. A First Tee chapter out of Vancouver is operating independently out of Vancouver, and previously out of Montreal, prior to the launch of First Tee – Canada.