First Tee – Lake Erie opens on Hill Avenue, Teaches Life Lessons on the Golf Course

“Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots;
you get good breaks from bad shots, but you have to play the ball where it lies.”
Bobby Jones, legendary golfer who played in U.S. Open tournaments
at the Inverness Club in Toledo

Golf is a unique sport – it is a sport played alone (even if you’re on a team), and one filled with traditions, especially etiquette. It teaches us all – from seasoned professionals to those stepping onto a course for the first time – humility, perseverance, respect and playing by the rules. Imagine, then, applying those rules to the process of growing up.

Facilities for area youth

First Tee – Lake Erie has taken up the challenge of combining golf with life lessons. The organization opened its first Northwest Ohio location at 4450 Hill Ave., behind the Inverness Club. It is a part of the Dattilo Family Youth Leadership Center, and in partnership with the Schoenrock Family Boys & Girls Club and ProMedica. This collaboration “promotes healthy living and good life skills as we curate good people,” said Executive Director Adam Reny. First Tee – Lake Erie held opening ceremonies during the Solheim Cup in early September and opened to the public in mid-September. 

Outdoor facilities include an athletic field for soccer and flag football, along with a driving range, putting green and short range for golf practice. In addition to teaching young people how to golf, the program will offer training in caddying and grounds maintenance. The 15,000 sq. ft. building features a gymnasium, dining area, game rooms and three classrooms. Around 100 dinners a day will be provided there, serving youths in the Rogers-McTigue-Keyser schools.

Golf’s lessons for boys and girls

The Boys & Girls Club chapter programming focuses on its three pillars of the Formula for Impact: academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. The addition of the golf facilities enhances those pillars. 

“In addition to teaching young people how to golf, we teach the etiquette of golf on the course and beyond, so our students learn about golf and the social skills of honesty, respect and responsibility,” Reny said. “These are skills that apply beyond the sport, to family and friends.”

First Tee – Lake Erie focuses on life training through golf. Coaches attach lessons in life skills/core values, healthy habits, golf skills and a bridge to life in each session. Reny explains that this approach to golf teaches many life lessons, most of which are good to learn at any age:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff or dwell on a bad shot. 
  • Concentration and focus are important. 
  • Accept that some things are out of your control. 
  • Use problem-solving techniques. 
  • Patience is necessary. 
  • Quiet environments can be beneficial. 
  • Be honest. You can’t get ahead in life – or golf – by cheating.

Year-round programming

The Boys & Girls Club provides an after school safe space, with homework help, arts and crafts, pool and table tennis tables and outdoor sports (weather permitting).

First Tee – Lake Erie is open daily, with after-school programs during the school year and indoor and outdoor programs in the spring, summer and fall. Hours this fall are 4 to 6pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 4 to 5:30 pm on Tuesday and Thursday. For information and registration, contact First Tee – Lake Erie online, at info@firstteelakeerie.org, or by calling 419.344.1179.