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First Tee Roanoke Gears Up For Exciting Fall Golf Season

The COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with local youth sports.
Not only have typical high school competitions been cancelled since March, youth sports such as Little League baseball, girls’ softball and rec league football have seen their seasons fail to get off the ground.
For youngsters yearning for a way to pick up the pieces with a way to learn the skills of another sport and enjoy valuable life-skills along the way, The First Tee Roanoke Valley may have the perfect solution. Golf is literally in full swing at The First Tee, and new members are urged to join in the fun.
A very popular tournament is set for this weekend and fall classes for both girl and boy golfers begin later this month at The First Tee.
The ninth annual Parent-Child Golf Tournament is on tap for September 19th-20th at Roanoke Country Club. The First Tee Parent-Child is open to two-player teams consisting of Parents and Children of ALL ages. The definition of “Parent” may be mother, father, step-parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or mentor. In other words, The First Tee wants any and every child to have the opportunity to be part of a special team.
Competition will follow the USGA rules and players will choose their Division from the following:
5-Hole “FUN” Division: 5 holes played in a Captain’s Choice format.
9-Hole “FUN” Division: 9 holes played in a Captain’s Choice format.
18-hole Division: 18 holes played in a Modified Alternate Shot format.
Masks will be required before play begins and, in the clubhouse. Regular tee times instead of a shotgun start to prevent large gatherings, a raffle, box lunch, awards and prizes will round out the day. No pressure on beginners (or parents for that matter); just come for the fun.
Earlier this week in an exclusive interview with The Star, First Tee Executive Director Jennifer Blackwood noted there were still a limited number of openings left which could be confirmed by calling the First Tee office at 540-563-1833.
The First Tee helps shape the lives of young people from all walks of life.
(photo courtesy of The First Tee Roanoke Valley).

“The Parent-Child Tournament has become one of our most popular events and we want everyone we have room for to enjoy what golf has to offer and the great experience at Roanoke Country Club,” Blackwood said. “Our staff was very innovative to make this tournament work in consideration of the COVID-19 restrictions. In addition, we continue to have great support from our corporate sponsors. We are expecting a huge field.”

Like everything else, this has been a strange and unpredictable year for The First Tee Roanoke Valley. Their signature tournament, The Scott Robertson Memorial, was cancelled in May due to the pandemic. That tournament had annually brought many of the top junior golfers in the world to Roanoke Country Club, with a long list of former winners that have gone on to amazing careers on the PGA and LPGA TOURS.
In July, The Delta Dental State Open of Virginia, played its sixth and final year of a stretch at Roanoke’s Ballyhack Golf Club where The First Tee received over $ 100,000 during that six-year period.
Instructional classes at The First Tee’s headquarters on Densmore Road in Northwest Roanoke will resume later this month. Classes are designed for young golfers with all varying levels of skills. Bill Rader, who came to First Tee Roanoke Valley in 2014 and is a PGA Professional with First Tee Coach Status, leads the instructional programs. The Densmore location is all-encompassing with covered driving range, putting green and indoor facilities once the pandemic restrictions ease.
“We normally would have started earlier, but the fall classes were moved to later in September because there were so many changes with schools having unusual start-ups this year,” Blackwood pointed out. “Our spring classes had just started when the pandemic began gaining steam. We went to on-line instruction and our team was creative to keep things moving. In June we reopened with a limited number of classes. For the fall, we’ll always be outside, with spacing and washing carefully observed to closely follow all COVID-19 protocol.”
The First Tee is more than a sports program for youth. Through varying in-school and after-school programs, The First Tee helps shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by introducing them to character education and life skills through the game of golf. In a recent survey, 85% of teen participants credit The First Tee for helping them be a better student in school and 96% credit The First Tee for improving their golf skills. In 2017 the organization reached more than 5.3 million young people through its programs with their focus on nine core values that include honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgement.
One of the most impressive aspects of The First Tee is its diversity. The participant gender is 49% female and 51% male. The participant ethnicity is 29% White or Caucasian, 29% Latino or Hispanic, 26% Black or African-American, 9% Asian and 7% Other based on recent data available.
In prior years, many First Tee Roanoke youth golfers have earned the chance to play with PGA pros in special events and participate in the national First Tee event on the PGA Champions Tour at Pebble Beach. Numerous First Tee Roanoke Valley members have gone on to play high school or college golf.
The opportunities are endless with The First Tee. The fun is guaranteed. And, the improvements in life skills are priceless for every member. Contact The First Tee to get started in an amazing program.
Bill Turner

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