The origin of the program dates back to 1991, when it began as Urban Junior Golf at Rogers Park Golf Course in Tampa. The concept was to offer affordable and accessible golf opportunities to children from moderate socio-economic backgrounds, and to use the inherent social and recreational values associated with the game to shape the lives of each participant. Urban Junior Golf became an official program of the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA in January 1998. This provided much needed administrative support and marketability. The First Tee was announced at approximately the same time, and immediate efforts were made to become an official Chapter.
Officially formed in 1999, The First Tee of Tampa Bay now provides more than 70,000 children each year with hands-on, interactive golf experiences along with introducing them to The First Tee’s Nine Core Values. In 2018, The First Tee of Tampa Bay was the top chapter in The First Tee network in the number of certifying participants (8,703 children) and in the top 10 percent in the number of outreach participants (74,000 children.) Besides being a program branch of the Tampa YMCA, The First Tee of Tampa Bay also partners with community members such as the Tampa Sports Authority, and the City of Tampa.
The First Tee program uses the game of golf to provide young people with the chance to develop life-enhancing values like confidence, perseverance and judgment. The First Tee teaches a series of life skills (such as goal setting, how to meet new people, and staying healthy) in all of its programs. Whether through introductory programs in 75+ Hillsborough County public schools, afterschool programs at several local courses, or week-long summer camp experiences, The First Tee shows children that golf is more than a game – it’s an opportunity to become the very best they can be.