Blog 55 - First Tee at Lake Padden, 9/17/10

firstteelakepadden135016 kids met on the practice putting green at Lake Padden Friday afternoon for Bellingham's first First Tee class. Jeff Cornish and Dr. Dave Reynaud from the First Tee of Snohomish County (which has expanded north to incorporate Bellingham and is now called the First Tee of North Puget Sound) were there to direct the class. Lake Padden Golf School's Phil Gaggero and I were there too; Phil to assist and observe so that he will soon be able to conduct all First Tee classes at Lake Padden himself, me because I wanted to volunteer after having done so in Seattle a few years ago.
Jeff and Dave were there at the start when the First Tee of Snohomish County began operating, first as 'Grass Roots Junior Golf', in the summer of 2004. They are now both nationally-recognized First Tee coaches and very familiar with the organization's Life Skills Experience in which students pass through six levels - TARGET, PLAYer, PAR, BIRDIE, EAGLE, and ACE.
The 16 students at Lake Padden - 12 boys, four girls aged between nine and 13 - started out on the PAR Level and, after some introductions, the fun began. 20 of us (students plus coaches) stood in a circle and threw a headcover around. When you were identified correctly, you clapped and were thrown the headcover. You then had to identify another in the circle by name and throw them the headcover. It was a remarkably effective way of breaking the ice (although I'm not sure there was much ice that needed breaking to be honest) and learning everyone's name.
firstteelakepadden2250From there we broke into four teams of four and played a few putting games. The emphasis here, and indeed all afternoon, was almost exclusively on having fun. There was an element of skill and ability involved in performing the tasks well, but Jeff made it clear the afternoon was about fun and thinking about what you were learning; not improving one's technique or winning any contests (that said, I'd like to point out the team I took under my wing - which consisted of Blair, Dennis, Sophie and Connor - won four of the five games!)
Then, while one 'fourball' had an assessment in which the aim was to complete a shortish six-hole putting course in 18 strokes or less, the other 12 students played 'Old Golf'. Here, the kids took it in turns putting to a hole about 30ft away. No one marked or picked up their ball after putting. If your ball hit anyone else's it was taken out of the game. After everyone hit their first putt, the process was repeated, furthest away playing first. The winner was the first ball in the hole.
While a few of the kids wanted to have the chance of getting their putt in first, most wanted to hang back to watch others' putts. When the last player came up and saw 11 balls already surrounding the hole, he realized going last perhaps wasn't the best plan. Anyway, we played it a few times and the students absolutely loved it.
But then they enjoyed the whole class. Me too.

Add comment

Security code