Invest in the future of your child through the game of golf

By Brooke DeVolld, for RealWV

As we reflect on the history of sports in West Virginia, a Mountaineers football game might come to mind, or maybe a baseball inning that you’ll never forget. For many people, golf may not have been the first thing you thought of, but that soon will change. 

“Wild and Wonderful” West Virginia has seen an increase in play at County Golf Courses throughout the state, and junior golf is growing like wildfire. There is no better time than now to introduce your kids to the game. 

The First Tee, a youth development organization that aims to introduce kids to golf, has made a charge throughout the state, reaching many different locations, and influencing many children along the way. 

In cities like Charleston, Morgantown, Wheeling, and more, children participating in The First Tee are beginning their stories with the game of golf, while also learning core values that will help them throughout life. 

Chuck Rhoades, Head Coach of The First Tee Charleston, spends much of his time teaching these core values to kids interested in golf. 

“The First Tee was organized to teach children life skills through golf. First Tee talks about core values such as respect, integrity, honesty, and sportsmanship, just to name a few”, said Rhoades. 

Rhoades explains the specific approach he uses to help kids understand these values, saying he tries to encourage his students to implement them off the course, in their communities, their schools, and in their homes. 

“We talk about the golf swing and etiquette on the course, as well as teaching the rules of the game. Most importantly, we talk about trying to improve by setting goals, which teaches our kids to utilize this value in the future along with building self-esteem”, explained Rhoades. 

Rhoades was asked about other opportunities for youth golf in the state outside of The First Tee, where he explained that there are some other organizations offering programs to children interested in the game.

“I encourage my students to participate in the Callaway Tour. These tournaments help with golf etiquette by applying what they learned at The First Tee on the course. It also lets them have the opportunity to realize the things they need to work on to be a better player”, said Rhoades. 

Lucas Ware, the Director of Junior Golf for West Virginia, is making his mark in his efforts to help junior golf throughout the state. 

During his time with the West Virginia Golf Association, which partners with the Callaway Tour to bring golf to kids in West Virginia, he has learned all about the best ways to get children involved in the game. 

“The Callaway Junior Tour, as well as the Callaway Rookie Tour, provide a great opportunity for kids to acclimate themselves with the game of golf”, explained Ware. 

These tours provide a variety of tournaments for parents and children to choose from. The rookie tour has beginner-friendly 9-hole tournaments throughout the summer. The Junior Tour, on the contrary, provides 18-hole tournaments for kids ready to perfect their game. 

“The tour also provides a “High-School Series”, which is a four-tournament event throughout August that allows players to have a unique team-based setup. This series, specifically, hopes to emphasize its support of girls’ golf, by encouraging teams to bring along high-school aged golfers to play with their teams”, explained Ware. 

When asked what value the game of golf has to the lives of children, Ware shared a core memory to explain his answer.

“In some of our tours, we play double-par pickup. This means that you stop playing the hole if you reach double the number of the par of that hole and take that score on your scorecard. One time, a kid played from the wrong tees on a hole and had to go right his wrong.”

“When he played the hole again, he hit some frustrating shots. He was almost at the score of double par and still had 100- or so yards to the green. He could have given up here, but instead, he hit a great shot into the green and made the putt. This experience showed a young kid that when you are faced with challenges, you should never give up. This is what the game of golf is about”, said Ware. 

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