SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – It’s a golf program that puts a unique twist on a centuries-old sport. First Tee introduces a variety of clinics, camps, and more for kids of all ages and backgrounds.

“We use the game of golf to teach life skills like interpersonal skills, goal-setting, resiliency skills,” First Tee-Upstate Executive Director Michael Pius said. “These are all skills that will make them great golfers, but even better people.”

And they make sure to put a fun spin on the game, like having pros hit a golf ball through a watermelon or hitting out of a pool to name a couple.

“You’re going to see kiddie pools. You’re going to see pool noodles. You’re going to see hula hoops. You’re going to have a lot of fun,” Pius said.

The First Tee nationwide program works to make the sport more accessible to kids, while using golf to teach life lessons along the way.

“The First Tee is a great opportunity for kids to be in an environment for children where they can feel comfortable learning a new sport that’s pretty challenging,” said Liz Conroy, who has two kids enrolled in the program.

The Upstate chapter is in its 23rd year of introducing the sport to some and enhancing already present skills for others.

“It’s so much fun being out at this clinic and seeing some kids pick up a golf club and not knowing which way to turn it, right?” Pius said. “And then you get some kids that are super skilled; they want to come out [and] they want to see how the pros do it. And we’re that introduction to the pros.”

The hour-long clinics have been attracting more and more participants year after year. It’s an encouraging sign as the organization looks to expand in the region.

“It’s amazing. Since we merged the First Tee of Greenville and First Tee of Spartanburg and Cherokee counties, we’ve been one of the fastest-growing chapters in the entire country,” Pius said. “We’re really excited about the future of our program. We’ve got great kids coming up through the program.” 

And with that growth has come added opportunities including college scholarships, national leadership academies, and more.

It’s just another way they’re using the sport to impact a kid’s future.

For more information, you can visit their website here.