The First Tee of Denver

The First Tee of Denver mission is 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. Through after-school and in-school programs, we help shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect and perseverance through the game of golf. And it’s making a difference. Our research-proven programs are having a positive impact on participants, their families and their communities.

The First Tee offers more than golf lessons for kids: we offer life lessons.

In 2001, Denver Junior Golf served 200 children at one location with two levels of instruction. The Director of Golf changed the program with involving more children – particularly those who were under-served. Denver’s municipal golf courses are primarily located in older inner-city neighborhoods. The ethnic makeup of these neighborhoods is largely African-American and Hispanic. However, the participants in the city’s junior golf program were primarily Caucasian youth from more affluent areas of Denver. Golf was not only unpopular – it was strangely foreign to the kids who lived nearest to the golf course. The former Junior Golf Director, David Kolquist, went to the schools within walking distance of City Park Golf Course and met with school personnel and students. The challenge was to create a mindset that golf was not slow and boring, but fun, challenging, educational, worthwhile, and “cool.” He set out to create an alternative for under-served youth to provide academic and character development outside the regular school setting. He got more kids involved by using fun, unique golf experiences and creating multiple, rewarding opportunities for continual involvement. Kids then discovered a positive alternative that supported their growth into upstanding adults.

At that time, more than 90% of the children at the target school were in the free and reduced lunch program. The junior golf program needed to be free/reduced fee and offer more than just golf. Thus, the 501c(3) program, The First Tee of Denver (TFTD), was created in order to raise dollars to supplement the junior golf program to give opportunities to children who might not have had them otherwise.

Now every quadrant of Denver is served and programs are expanding into four surrounding counties.