First Tee: Teaching Kids Golf Is More Than a Game

First Tee Colorado Rocky Mountains is here to teach kids that golf is not just a game—it’s a game changer.

In the world of First Tee Colorado Rocky Mountains, golf is less about perfecting the putt and more about mastering the art of life. Here, each swing teaches patience, each hole challenges precision, and yes, every once in a while, a flung club teaches a bit about human nature. “Golf relates to real life in unexpected ways,” says Paula Purifoy, CEO of First Tee. “After 20 years with this organization, I’ve seen it change the lives of children—and sometimes even rescue futures.”

Spawned from a coalition of golf giants in 1997, First Tee aimed to democratize the greens. Fast forward to the early 2000s, where the golf courses, typically located in Denver’s diverse neighborhoods, saw play predominantly by Caucasian youth from affluent areas. Today, the Rocky Mountain chapter stands out, not just in Colorado but nationally, for bringing the game to those who once viewed courses as uncharted territories. The Rocky Mountain chapter is First Tee’s second-largest, serving 11,000 kids in 10 Colorado counties last year alone.

For kids aged 4 to 18, First Tee’s programs weave rigorous golf training with an equally tough life skills curriculum, building resilience and self-confidence that leap the confines of the course. The kids carry their newfound strength into classrooms, friendships, and future boardrooms, Purifoy shares. Beyond the basics, First Tee offers a smorgasbord of growth opportunities: leadership summits, competitive tournaments, and even scholarships. The upper echelons of the program—think Kennedy Advanced Golf Camps and Players’ Club Tournament Series—polish both their irons and their integrity.

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Colorado’s own spin on First Tee includes the nation’s only Junior Coach Program, which turns teens into mentors, helping them guide younger players while honing their own professional acumen. “By their fifth year, they are polished and ready for college or job interviews,” says Purifoy.

First Tee is swinging for inclusivity. “With the diversity of our board and staff leading the charge, we’re showing every family that golf is theirs to enjoy,” says Purifoy. In Denver, First Tee is more than a golf program—it’s a life changer, proving that the course might just be the best classroom of all.