First Tee – Salina was developed and built in the summer of 2000 as a public/private partnership between the City of Salina and The First Tee of Salina, a local non-profit group that promotes child development through the game of golf. Our facility, The Verla Nesbitt Joscelyn Youth Golf Academy, opened for programming and play in May, 2001.
Each year, approximately 400 children take part in our summer golf and Life Skills programming. Operated by the Salina Parks and Recreation Department and the staff at the Salina Municipal Golf Course classes are offered for children of all abilities between the ages of 5-17 years old. The focus of our classes is not only golf development but also Life Skills training such as goal setting, meeting and greeting, and conflict management.
Many other youth groups in Salina have used our facility including all area schools, St. Francis Academy, the Boy Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Blue Thunder, St. Johns Bapist Church, and the Girl Scouts.
Utilizing a curriculum based on established educational and psychological principles and taught by highly qualified and skilled instructors, Mike Hargrave and Keith Leonard. First Tee – Salina is having significant success in capitalizing on golf’s ability to teach core human and character values to the young people who participate in our program. We provide lessons that not only will have lasting positive influence on their character and their lives, but also will educate and motivate them to become responsible and productive members of their communities.
The young people proceed through many levels of formal Life Skills instruction: Target, PLAYer,Par, Birdie and Eagle. The Target level gets young children started in the program. The PLAYer level introduces the students to a target oriented game. The Par level focuses on fundamental communication and self-management skills. The Birdie level deals primarily with goal-setting. The Eagle level provides participants with advanced instruction and practice in Mastering Par and Birdie level skills, as well as conflict management, mentoring and career planning. To progress in the program, participants must demonstrate that they understand and can apply the core life skills by answering written questions and performing various skills for and instructor. When they meet certification requirements, the children progress to the next level.