First Tee – Indiana Spotlight



Congratulations to our ten Indiana participants for completing the First Tee Leadership Series at the PGA TOUR Superstore in Indianapolis. The First Tee Leadership Series, in partnership with PGA TOUR Superstore, was an engaging and empowering five-week series designed to provide teens the opportunity to (1) build relationships with local PGATSS leadership, (2) uncover their leadership values and strengths, (3) identify potential careers based on those findings, and (4) develop goals on how to attain their desired career path.

Participants gave presentations on potential career choice(s) and how their values and strengths connect to this choice. They all did an incredible job and we look forward to highlighting these amazing teens in the coming weeks. Congrats everyone and thank you to the PGA TOUR Superstore for their partnerships in Building Game Changers!




Roberts Receives ACE Distinction

Sam Roberts of First Tee – Indiana in Richmond has acheived the ultimate First Tee reward. He finished his Ace level projects in 2020 and was recognized for his achievements in a December 3rd ceremony in Richmond. Sam is Indiana’s first participant to acheive this goal and we congratulate him from the entire First Tee – Indiana family!

Ace is the top level of First Tee Life Skills Experience. Ace focuses on personal planning and reinforces self-management, goal setting, self-coaching, interpersonal communication and resilience. Ace Projects: Enjoy Golf for Life, Plan for Life and Career Possibilities, Give Back to the Community, Explore Educational Opportunities.

Vandeventer Gives Back to First Tee

Luke Vandeventer of Columbus recently completed a high school class project focused on fundraising with the First Tee – Indiana in Columbus as its beneficiary. Luke was able to raise $1500 and was proud to present his check to chairman Tony Giambiani, FT Executive Director Mike David, and Regional Coach Roger Lundy. Luke is the son of First Tee Coach Keith Vanderventer.


Michiana Breaks Ground on New Learning Center

“I always get so sad when the weather starts to turn, snow gets mentioned on the evening news, and we have to say good-bye to our First Tee kids for six (or more) months.  Now, thanks to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Postle, this is the last winter for those feelings!” exclaimed Jenny Zimmerman, Site Director for First Tee-Indiana in Michiana, as they broke ground on a new year-round facility located at South Bend’s Studebaker Golf Course.  The new learning center, expected to open in spring 2021 will be a 2,800 square foot building that will house an indoor putting green, a golf simulator, dedicated restrooms, an office, storage, and a flexible space that can be used for classroom or expanded play purposes.
The facility is primarily funded by private donors John & Kathy Postle.  John grew up in the neighborhood surrounding Studebaker Golf Course and spent his days on its fairways. John remembers those times fondly: “The friends and the memories made at Studebaker will always be very special to me.  When I heard that First Tee was partnering with Studebaker I knew that junior golf was going to flourish here in Michiana.  Young people under the guidance of Jenny Zimmerman and First Tee will not only learn a lifelong game, will adhere to the rules of golf as well as learn principles that extend beyond the golf course.  This is a wonderful opportunity for all junior golfers and I am proud to be involved with Studebaker Golf Course and First Tee – Michiana.”

Announcing Spring 2020 A/B Honor Roll!

Congrats to the following students who submitted their names for our A/B Honor Roll recognition. Great work everyone! We congratulate all First Tee participants on showing awesome PERSEVERANCE and completing all your classwork on-line this spring.

Indianapolis Location
G. Pellett
N. Brand
N. Kimbrough
E. Wise
L. Mintze
M. McGarrell
E. Hofer
K. Sturgeon
Orange County Location
C. Whitfield
East Central Location
R. Davis
Northwest Location
G. Potter
D. Olson
Richmond Location
J. Holman
M. Elstro
L. Tompkins
J. Roth
J. Cornett
N. Sweigart
AJ Carter
Michiana Location
T. Moody
Lafayette Location
S. D’Hue
S. D’Hue
J. Gibb
Evansville Location
C. Robinson
South Central Location
N. Boeglin
S. Layton
H. Boehm


Representing First Tee in Naples, Florida

Congrats to Esther Etheringon, 16, of First Tee of Indiana-Richmond and Gavin Edele,17, of First Tee of Indiana-South Central for being selected to compete in the Golf to Paradise First Tee Champions Challenge this weekend in Naples, Florida! They will accompany First Tee Coach Ali Beam to the three-day competition for the event held in conjunction with the PGA Tour’s Chubb Classic.

The Chubb Classic partners with the Naples, Marco Island & Everglades and The First Tee for the annual Golf to Paradise—First Tee Champions Challenge to give two participants from 12 different First Tee chapters (24 total participants) an opportunity to play. Participants will play a total of nine holes during each of the three days of competition with an alternative format each day. On Friday, the teams played in a scramble, followed by a modified alternate shot on Saturday and closing with a better ball format on Sunday. Final scoring was based off total points earned each day of the nine-hole format. Following play on Sunday, the winners will be announced.

Follow along on Esther and Gavin’s journey on our Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

Drive in Style

Support Indiana Junior Golf by getting your First Tee of Indiana specialty license plate! The plate cost is $40 at purchase and upon each subsequent registration renewal. After your vehicle registration fees and taxes, $25 will go to the Indiana Golf Foundation and First Tee of Indiana.

Interested in a low digit plate? For a low digit plate number (1-100), obtain an authorization form that has been completed and signed by the Indiana Golf Office. Contact Autumn Strong,, for more information.



Karr Heads to Pebble Beach

Check out this dynamite duo! Our own Andrew Karr from Valporaiso has been paired with @PGATOUR Champions pro Steven Leaney for the @PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee! Today’s events include a practice rounds at Poppy Hills Golf Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Then tonight Andrew will attend a Legends and Leaders event presented by Vaughan Industries. We are rooting for you Andrew all the way from Indiana! To follow Andrew’s journey at Pebble Beach, tune to the Golf Channel at 4 P.M. E.T. on September 27-29!








Next Gear Capital donates league proceeds to First Tee

Our thanks to Next Gear Capital of Indianapolis who recently donated $2,500 to the First Tee of Indiana. The company’s weekly summer golf league received a sponsorship from the company to cover their costs in this third year of their league play. The 24 members and 6 alternates saw an opportunity to pay their reward forward by donating their normal player fees to help kids learn to play golf. League member Brad Sontag served as an intern at the Indiana Golf Office in 2008 and suggesting giving to the Foundation and First Tee of Indiana. Their funds will help with scholarships for the Indianapolis area participants as well as funding for National School Program equipment.

We wish these gentlemen a great end to their summer season at Woodwind Golf Club!

Company representatives Patty Turner, Tim Wilson and Brad Sontag visited the Indiana Golf Foundation to present a check to the First Tee of Indiana staff. Next Gear Capital is a company that finances auto dealerships and is a subsidiary of Cox Automotive and the larger Cox Corporation.


Indiana Golf Foundation Celebrates 25 Years

What does golf mean to me? It means confidence. It means self-management. It means goal-setting. It means doing well in school. It means making friends that become family. It means The First Tee.

April 25th marks our 25th Anniversary of the Indiana Golf Foundation – and thanks to generous donors like you, The First Tee of Indiana has become our fastest growing program. In 2012, The First Tee became a part of the Indiana Golf Foundation, and what began as an Indianapolis group of 6,000, has grown into a statewide movement of nearly 100,000 participants.

Why? Because The First Tee is about so much more than golf. It’s about life lessons that teach youth to become confident. To become independent. To set goals. To care how they do in school. To thrive socially and make life-long friends. Golf is just the avenue. #GoodGolfersBetterPeople

Today, we ask for your continued support of The First Tee program. We hope you will consider making a monthly gift of $25 to celebrate our 25th Anniversary – because every kid deserves a chance to be great.


Tanselle Turns Project in to Club Donation

Riverside Academy First Tee classes will miss volunteer Thomas Tanselle’s presence next year. After graduating from University High School in Carmel this past spring, he is headed to Purdue University to study engineering in the fall. Tanselle has been working with Coach Roger Lundy at his evening classes at Riverside Golf Academy since he first became aware of the program his freshmen year at a school skills challenge. A member of the University High School golf team, he helped at Riverside during the fall and winter sessions and saw a need for sets of golf clubs for kids who did not have their own equipment. During his senior year, he was assigned a project in a class that challenged him to show “leadership thru service”.  His experience with First Tee gave him an idea.

Tanselle started a leaf raking business. “I raked yards in the Fall for lots and lots of hours. It was a lot more work than I expected,” described Tanselle. “But people donated generously when they found out what my cause was. My goal was $300 and I almost quadrupled it.”  He was able to donate $1,000 to the First Tee for golf clubs at Riverside and will use the rest to build a golf skill-ball game he saw on TV.  “Everything he did was to help kids in our program, ” said Coach Lundy said of Thomas. “He’s a very unselfish kid and worked really hard on his project.”  We thank Thomas Tanselle and his dedication to the First Tee of Indiana and wish him the best of luck at Purdue!


Northwest’s Andrew Karr to Play at Pebble Beach

Congratulations Andrew Karr!! Announced on Golf Channel’s The Morning Drive, Andrew has been chosen to represent The First Tee of Indiana as one of the 78 juniors playing at @PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee!

Learn More:…


Senior Sam Roberts of Centerville goes for Ace Distinction

Sam Roberts of Centerville is having quite a year. In February he traveled to Naples, Florida to complete in the First Tee Champions Challenge. In May, he won two awards from the Indiana Golf Foundation, the David E. Simon and First Tee of Indiana scholarships.  In June, he graduated as Valedictorian of his class at Centerville Senior High School. Recently he was honored by the First Tee Indiana – Richmond, with a billboard celebrating his successes.

But Sam’s not finished yet. Still a volunteer at the weekly classes at Glenn Miller First Tee Facility in Richmond, Sam is not done with his First Tee experience. This summer he is working on his ACE level distinction before fall. He has four major projects to complete before accomplishing his goal: Enjoying Golf for Life, Plan for Life and Career Possibilities, Give Back to the Community and Explore Educational Opportunites. “The first challenge is the biggest,” said Roberts. “I have to do a lot of skill analysis, keep stats on the course, and answer a lot of questions in the ACE book. It’s helping to build my confidence. It’s all about knowing what you are doing and being able to fix it.”

All the hard work will help Roberts as he prepares to attend Indiana University-East in the fall to study Business & Finance. The First Tee of Indiana wishes Sam the best in all of his endeavors!

Sam Roberts of Centerville poses next to a billboard in his honor. “I was shocked and humbled,” he said of the sign posted by a group of people including his future school, Indiana University-East.






First Tee – Indiana’s Nadia Kimbrough Attends 2019 Wells Fargo Championship

Congratulations to Nadia Kimbrough for being one of four First Tee participants selected to attend the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship! Learn more at:




The First Tee recognizes outstanding academic achievement of all participants through its A/B Honor Roll program. All participants, regardless of age, are eligible for this recognition. Students will receive a certificate of achievement from the First Tee office to be mailed in February. If you have not registered your honor roll students yet, Register A/B Honor Roll here. Congrats to all participants for their hard work! (updated on Jan. 15)

Marissa K. Ava M. David F. Max P. Nick K.
Makenzie B. Chandler B. Avery B. Brant T.
Brenna B. Jacob E. Sebastian P. PERU Garrett T.
Marissa K. Brianna R. Kyle H. Piercey D. Sidney Jo L.
ChazLynn K.A.O. Porter R. Linkin DeN. Kara B. Gabriel B.
KyLynn K.A.O. Evelyn S. Jack B.
Carson A. Hanna F. Noah L.
Hayden H. Tristyn A. P. NORTHWEST RICHMOND Colin L.
Jaylee G. Matilda Ann S. Sophia V. Easton T. Carson B.
Eloise Faye S. Samuel C. Braden (Brady) M. Carter B.
Brody S. Jaylin S. Amos S.
Tyler B. Cassie M. Zoe B. SOUTH EASTERN
Chloe C. Alexander L. Macky L. Sam R.
Penn A. P. Sam K. Esther E. Luke R.
Blaine A. Christian D. Rayann W. Madelyn C.
Jack H. Tryston S. Madison S. Maxwell R.
Joseph F. Michael R. Weston J.
Kayla S. Levi S. Brianna F.
Alexander P. Norah Cody H.
Madison R. Jacob G. Andrew C. JR. (AJ)
Kennedy R. Austin J. Kaylee H.
Kellen E. Kyla V.
Josselyn M. Darius L.
Jessica M. Eva L.
Maddison P. Grant P.
Gavin C. Wynne A.
Nadia K. Matthew G.
Danny V.
Nolan G.


Richmond celebrates continued success within their community

In 2006, the Richmond Park’s Department closed Glen Miller Golf Course, the oldest course in the city, with the desire to do something with the green space. Mike Foley, of the Park’s Department Board and long-time golfer, reached out to The First Tee headquarters, but was told that Richmond would not be large enough to be their own First Tee chapter. Foley, however, was persistent and a year later The First Tee was working with Richmond to start a First Tee chapter in their community.

Once they got the green light, Foley, Bob Van Pelt, and PGA Tour Player, Bo Van Pelt went to the Richmond Community Schools to request funds to start the National School Program.  Ten schools and $24,000 later (with the help of a grant) The First Tee’s National School Program was up and running in the Richmond Community Schools.

The second component of The First Tee program is the Five Level Certifying program taught at local golf courses with the National School Program operating as a feeder system. In June of 2008, Foley and Al Armstead began The First Tee Certifying Program at Glen Miller Park with 65 kids participating. The old clubhouse was renamed The Cross/Van Pelt Facility, which became a classroom for the participants to be taught the Nine Core Values and Healthy Habits.

In 2012, Sam Witherby became the director of The First Tee of Indiana-Richmond, with the Richmond Chapter now falling under The First Tee of Indiana Chapter. Since then, participation has increased every year to the current enrollment of 175 kids – the second largest program location in the state.

Richmond utilizes dedicated, long-term volunteers and paid staff that includes the Richmond High School Girl’s and Boy’s Golf Coach, Caleb Snyder, as well as multiple collegiate level golfers. The staff is funded by sponsorships and local fundraising efforts. The Bo Van Pelt Tournament has also been created in support of The First Tee of Indiana-Richmond, with an overwhelming response from the community. Bo Van Pelt has made a special appearance 8 of the last 10 years, where he meets the kids and provides instruction, with First Tee participants playing alongside each foursome.

The community has been extremely generous in sponsorship dollars which has allowed the First Tee participation fee to stay at a low, affordable cost of $25.  Scholarships are available as well. All participants who are members of the Boys and Girls Club can also participate at no cost. Notable sponsors include: First Bank of Richmond, B&F Plastics, Manpower of Richmond, Smarrelli General Contractor, Texas Roadhouse, and Harrington-Hoch Insurance.

Since its inception, Richmond has been in a unique situation with The City of Richmond providing a private facility for First Tee programming at the Glen Miller Golf Course. The Park Department has provided maintenance and operations to support The Green Grass program. Through this mutualistic relationship, six greens, a practice putting green, a sand trap and a chipping area are maintained. In 2018, the watering system was rebuilt and the cost was shared by The Richmond Park’s Department and The First Tee of Indiana-Richmond. Richmond programming runs from June 1st through June 14th.  The sessions are 14-one hour sessions bi-weekly, with five classes a day, for four days a week by age group.

Richmond is now the second oldest program location in the state and serves as a role model for other cities. The Indiana Golf Association, Pro Golf Association and The First Tee of Indiana are collaborative groups with Andrew Gridley, The First Tee of Indiana Director of Operations, working directly with The First Tee of Indiana-Richmond for continued success. Richmond is also proud to have several Eagle Level participants including: Jaycee Cornett (2017), Sam Roberts and Andrew Click (2018). This past year, two Richmond participants were selected for Leadership Academies including: Jaycee Cornett at The Chubb Classic Academy in Naples and Brooke Killion at The John Deere Leadership Academy in Atlanta.

TFT Indiana Regional Directors, Ali Beam and Roger Lundy, participate in Indiana GOlf Charities Day

Come Monday, September 24th, at The Club at Chatham Hills in Westfield, Ali Beam and Roger Lundy will compete in the Indiana Golf Charities Day to help raise money for The First Tee of Indiana.  This will be the 5th year Indiana PGA Professional’s will be raising funds for local charities.  Each participating PGA Professional will play 72 holes to support the Indiana Golf Foundation, The First Tee of Indiana, and a charity of his or her choosing. Funds can be raised by pledges for birdies and eagles made by the participating PGA Professional, total golf holes played, or flat donations.

CLICK HERE to donate to Ali Beam, PGA donation page.

CLICK HERE to donate to Roger Lundy, PGA donation page.


96 teens from around the country to attend the Academy in East Lansing, Mich.

Franklin, IN 6/5/2018  – Ashton Cook from The First Tee of Indiana has been selected to attend the Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. Life Skills and Leadership Academy in East Lansing, Mich. July 25–July 31. Ashton Cook will join more than 90 junior golfers from The First Tee, ages 14–17, to participate in this national event.

The Academy provides participants golf and leadership instruction that incorporates The First Tee’s Nine Core Values. During the week-long event, participants will have the opportunity to develop and hone skills to become leaders in their chapters, schools and communities while experiencing championship golf, career exploration and dorm living.

During the week, Ashton Cook will learn from and interact with the top coaches in The First Tee network and meet a variety of teens from around the country.

I have known Ashton for over five (5) plus years now.  When I first met Ashton, he already had many of the life skills that the First Tee stresses.  This comes from him having great parents.  I have had the joy of watching him grow up and mature.  When Ashton first started coming to class I remember he would make a putt and dance around because he was so happy.    Now when he makes a putt, he smiles and gives a fist pump and moves on.  Ashton is one of the happiest kids I know.  Whenever you are having a bad day just seeing him play golf and his smile to be on the course will brighten your day.  I could ramble on and on about how he uses life skills that he learned at the chapter but the list will be never ending.  The skill that is the most impressive is that Ashton is honest and respectful.  He already had these qualities when he arrived at the chapter, but I think he started to notice that not all kids had these qualities.  Instead of following the other kids, Ashton stuck to his values and stayed honest and respectful.  The other kids started to take notice and started to follow what Ashton was doing.  He is a born leader; however, I am not sure if he realized the impact that he has on his friends, fellow participants and even myself before he started attending First Tee – Ali Beam.

The Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. Life Skills and Leadership Academy is focused on recognizing and rewarding exceptional teen participants in The First Tee for their accomplishments while enhancing skills that will help on and off the golf course.

The Academy is hosted by The First Tee headquarters and Michigan State University.

The First Tee is a youth sports organization whose mission is to grow the game of golf by transforming the experience that kids (and families) have with the sport. Through in-school and after-school programs, The First Tee introduces kids to the game of golf and Nine Core Values, while positively impacting their lives. For more information about The First Tee of Indiana visit  To request an interview with Cook, call 317-739-3017.


In late February, two of our First Tee participants, Jacey Cornett and Wynne Aldrich, were selected to compete in the Golf to Paradise First Tee Champions Challenge hosted by The First Tee of Naples/Collier. An invitation-only tournament that tied into the PGA Senior Tour event the Chubb Classic, ten chapters across the country selected two participants to compete in a three day, 27-hole tournament.

With nearly 20 years of combined First Tee experience, Jacey and Wynne have learned how to lead by example. Through The First Tee, both have attended camps that developed their leadership skills on and off the course. At their first experience on a national scale, Jacey and Wynne set the bar high for future Indiana participants, as they finished the tournament in a tie for third place.

The Champions Challenge was a unique experience from which the girls took away many memories. When asked what she enjoyed about the experience, Jacey said “It was really exciting for me to meet other girls my age that share the same passion for the game as I do! I also met my partner Wynne for the first time and now we are really good friends!” Wynne had a similar response and highlighted how the format gave her the opportunityto work on her teamwork skills. From a night at the beach with their fellow players, to a presentation delivered by Fred Funk, The First Tee of Naples/Collier delivered an unforgettable four days for Jacey and Wynne!


A Week to Remember

Unlike most 14 year-old boys, Ben Fencl didn’t spend his whole summer break going to the pool with friends or seeing action movies.  Instead, he learned how to be a leader in his community.

Ben was one of 96 participants selected from across the country to attend the 2017 First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy (LSLA) in East Lansing, Mich.  Participants were required to be at least 14 years of age, and were selected based on their golf skills, etiquette, and character demonstrated both on and off the golf course.

In late July, Ben attended the week-long leadership academy and enjoyed the variety that the program offered, as well as the friendships made along the way.

“On the first night, our group came up with adjectives for everyone that started with the first letter of our first name,” said Ben. “‘Bouncy’ became my nickname for the week, because I love moving around and never sit still.”

Ben described each day of the academy as different.  While the majority of time was spent on the golf course, other lessons were focused entirely on life skills.

“On certain mornings, speakers came to the dorms to teach lessons on life skills before we headed to the course,” said Ben.  “Probably the best thing that I learned that week was not to be afraid of failure, but instead, to learn from it, stay determined, and continue to try.”

In addition to daily lessons, participants also spent time getting to know each other and attending social outings.  During the evenings, they had the opportunity to play putt-putt, go bowling, and attend a minor league baseball game.

“I really liked meeting so many new people,” said Ben.  “I’m really looking forward to becoming more involved with other First Tee participants at home and hopefully teaching them some of the games that I learned that week.”

Ben will be a freshman this fall at North Central High School and a member of the men’s golf team.  With his newfound leadership and desire to help others succeed, we are sure to hear more about ‘Bouncy’ in the near future.