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First Tee introduces golf to local youths

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Photo courtesy Friends of Cedaredge Golf Thanks to the Friends of Cedaredge Golf nonprofit, golf is now being taught as part of the physical education curriculum at Cedaredge Elementary and Middle Schools.

In 2018 the Ladies Golf Club saw a need. In a community with a large municipal golf course, not many youth knew about the course or how to play. They decided to start a nonprofit, Friends of Cedaredge Golf, to raise money and bring a national program, The First Tee, to the Cedaredge Elementary School.

One way they fundraised was through a tournament that brought in over $6,000. Since the nonprofit has been such a success, the money they've earned will support other activities like clinics, a three-day camp and even provide memberships on scholarship.

"We wanted to show the children that this is their golf course, too," said club member and FOCG board member Barb Stoermer. "The response we've received has been incredible. Parents are ecstatic to see their children outside and learning golf."

Essentially, The First Tee provides curriculum to the physical education classes to introduce golf and build character through the nine core values like persistence and honesty. The First Tee of Denver provided the equipment to get started.

In September CES students spent four weeks learning golf skills as part of their physical education class. Golf was also introduced at the Cedaredge Middle School through a three-day segment during the winter, though it wasn't part of The First Tee.

FOCG hopes to integrate nine-core curriculum into the middle school in the near future. Doing so would help create continuity for students learning the sport from elementary onward.

"A long term goal is to eventually provide scholarship for high school students," said Stoermer. These scholarships would go to students interested in playing golf in college or invited by a college to play on the team.

However, for this year they're focusing on getting more youth from the county onto the course. For example, FOCG raised enough last year to award 40 golf membership scholarships this season. These will be awarded on March 31.

"In a community of 2,200 people we have a thriving junior golf community," said Erik Hanson, golf club house operations director. These scholarships will go to youth from all over the county.

This is the first year awarding the scholarships so they were selected based on attendance. In the future, Hanson said they might be based on interest and need.

Additionally Hanson has planned several activities for youth in association with The First Tee. First he will provide free First Tee clinics for juniors throughout June and July.

Each Tuesday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., any child aged 18 or under can attend. Different facets of the game of golf will be taught using The First Tee nine core values and attendees will also play on the Green Lizard Par 3 course.

A First Tee Junior camp will run June 24 to 26 for ages five to 17. The first two days will be mostly instruction followed by a golf tournament and pizza party. Last year over 45 kids participated.

Finally, to finish out the season a First Tee Junior tournament is planned for Tues. Aug. 6 with various age categories. "I hope we get youth from all over the Western Slope," said Hanson. "We're really trying to get more kids involved in golf and love seeing families get excited and playing with their children."

To continue supporting these activities the FOCG have several fundraisers planned this season. A SIZZLER tournament in August will support The First Tee Program and silent auctions also bring in funds.

However, Stoermer said huge support comes from sponsors like USBank, Colorado Bank and DMEA who contribute thousands each year to support the program.

"Our goal in 2019 is to purchase additional children's equipment to have available for use for those unable to purchase and bring their own," said Stoermer. They also contributed to the golf restoration plan. "Were hoping by having the children involved that more people will see the value in having the golf course here."

Those with questions or to inquire about the activities offered as part of The First Tee and Cedaredge Golf Club, visit www.cedaredgegolf.com or call (970) 856-7781.

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Cedaredge, First Tee, Golf
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