In 1987, Chuck Redmond, PGA Master Professional, and Chuck Benes, PGA, launched the Lake Erie Junior Golf Association, a competitive junior golf tour that hosts 20 tournaments throughout Northwest Ohio.
In the early 2000s, they began to notice a decline in participating 10 and 11 year olds. It appeared as if fewer kids were taking enough of an interest in golf to build the skills necessary to compete in a league.
Redmond and Benes began to research ways to get kids more involved at an earlier age, and came across the PGA’s First Tee initiative. Buying in to the concept and seeing a real need for this type of program in their area, the two decided to start a chapter.
It quickly became apparent how valuable and impactful the First Tee’s program, messaging and training could be.
Today, the chapter instills the First Tee’s 9 core values in juniors ages 6-18 across six Northwest Ohio counties, including Sandusky, Erie, Huron, Ottawa, Wood and Lucas. The program is based out of Oak Harbor Club, but travels to Keys Golf Course, Fremont Country Club, Collins Park Golf Course, Detwiler Golf Course and Crosswinds.
In addition, the chapter is partnered with eight school districts, applying the First Tee’s lessons to their 4th grade physical education classes. They also provide programming to the Sandusky YMCA, Norwalk Recreation Center, Fremont Recreation Center and Abilities Center of Greater Toledo.
“We are lucky to get to work with a number of great kids, partners and sponsors,” said Redmond, Executive Director of the First Tee of Lake Erie. “I’d especially like to thank Canberra Corporation, The LaValley Foundation, John Bates Foundation, Baumann Automotive, Crown Battery, Ottawa County Community Foundation, Oak Harbor Rotary and The Anderson’s for all they’ve done to get us to where we are today.”
Courtesy: Keith Moehring, PR 20/20