I've been at the Golf Industry Show this week. As I was riding up the elevator today, a gentleman was telling his friend about how they had raised one million dollars for the First Tee program. He was elated and speaking loudly enough that everybody heard him. And mere moments before that, I had just finished a breakfast meeting with an industry veteran who has been involved in some of the finest golf projects in the country. He felt that First Tee was a complete and utter failure at growing the game. And then later in the day I had a similar conversation with a Golf Course Architect friend; his opinion was that First Tee was a failure at growing the game. Well, this caused me to remember that The First Tee's goal is not to grow the game of golf. Let me repeat that, The First Tee's goal is not to grow the game of golf.
Here is The First Tee's mission:
Our Mission: To impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.
And while The First Tee's mission is a noble and worthy of support, it's main purpose is not growing the game of golf. Perhaps, we should, as an industry focus on growing the game of golf. In my post about PRODUCT PLACEMENT, I look at using product placement to expose young people to the game of golf. I'm sure that there are other good ideas out there as well. But until we admit to ourselves that The First Tee program's main focus is not to create as many new golfers as possible, we will just keep sliding backwards.