10 August 2020 – Oakville, Ontario
Golf Canada and First Tee announced today a new partnership to launch First Tee – Canada. First Tee’s Board Chairman, PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, shared the news during a global announcement that Presidents Cup will return to Royal Montreal Golf Club in 2024.
Together, the partnership will bring First Tee’s youth development emphasis to strengthen Golf Canada’s junior golf activities – previously conducted under the Future Links brand – that reach kids in schools and at golf facilities. The innovative First Tee curriculum will focus on empowering young people to build their strength of character through the game of golf. Golf Canada will serve as the national headquarters of First Tee – Canada.
“Partnering with First Tee towards the 2021 launch of First Tee – Canada will provide Canadian youth and especially those in underrepresented groups access to affordable and meaningful character education programs through golf,” said Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum. “Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada have developed a strong foundation for junior golf programming over the past twenty plus years through Future Links. We are excited going forward to partner with the globally recognized First Tee brand and work collaboratively with the Golf Canada Foundation to strengthen our youth development activities.”
“Golf Canada has made a significant impact on the growth of the sport in Canada through their multi-faceted junior golf initiatives and was a natural fit for us to partner with the launch of First Tee – Canada,” said Greg McLaughlin, CEO, First Tee. “Together, we will bring the First Tee youth development program nationwide and build on Golf Canada’s impressive grassroots success with programming that reaches kids via nearly 600 golf facilities and 4,100 participating schools.”
The PGA of Canada will play a leading role in the training of coaches who will serve as mentors to the kids and teens in the program. Coaches will help bring the curriculum to life by introducing youth to fun and active experiences that help them build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that can carry to everything they do.
“We are proud that PGA of Canada professionals will play an important role in utilizing golf to teach First Tee core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, judgement and courtesy,” said Kevin Thistle, CEO of PGA of Canada. “We look forward to supporting the development of youth and junior golfers through the coaching and mentorship of PGA of Canada professionals in alignment with the National Coaching Certification Program.”
First Tee – Canada will target to launch multiple chapters in 2021 with a growth strategy to establish First Tee chapters in markets across Canada through 2023. The inaugural First Tee – Canada chapter launching in 2021 will be located in Victoria, British Columbia at the Bear Mountain Golf & Tennis Resort Community which is also home to Golf Canada’s National Training Centre. This was made possible by the support of the Matthews and Kusumoto families. Dan Matthews is a global Trustee and a member of the Board of Governors of the First Tee and a member of the Board of Directors of the Golf Canada Foundation. A First Tee chapter in Quebec will also be launched shortly thereafter, continuing the incredible legacy of past Presidents Cups. With support from the Presidents Cup, First Tee has successfully launched global chapters in Australia (2019) and Korea (2015).
Through its deep network of donors and trustees, Golf Canada Foundation will be a critical partner in supporting the launch and advancement of First Tee – Canada through its fundraising and philanthropic efforts. Canada’s Provincial Golf Associations will also play a role in the advancement of First Tee – Canada as chapters begin to form in markets across Canada. In addition, Golf Canada will continue to work with the NGCOA Canada (National Golf Course Owner’s Association) and other key industry stakeholders towards a more inclusive golf experience for Canadian youth.
Since its inception in 1997, First Tee has impacted more than 15 million young people through its character-building programs on golf courses, in schools and at youth-serving locations.
The First Tee network has grown to over 150 chapters and more than 1,200 program locations across the United States as well as six international chapters—Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco and Canada—delivering programs that help young people build character and develop life skills through the game of golf. A First Tee chapter out of Vancouver is operating independently out of Vancouver, and previously out of Montreal, prior to the launch of First Tee – Canada.