The First Tee of Indiana spotlight


Richmond celebrates continued success within their community

In 2006, the Richmond Park’s Department closed Glen Miller Golf Course, the oldest course in the city, with the desire to do something with the green space. Mike Foley, of the Park’s Department Board and long-time golfer, reached out to The First Tee headquarters, but was told that Richmond would not be large enough to be their own First Tee chapter. Foley, however, was persistent and a year later The First Tee was working with Richmond to start a First Tee chapter in their community.

Once they got the green light, Foley, Bob Van Pelt, and PGA Tour Player, Bo Van Pelt went to the Richmond Community Schools to request funds to start the National School Program.  Ten schools and $24,000 later (with the help of a grant) The First Tee’s National School Program was up and running in the Richmond Community Schools.

The second component of The First Tee program is the Five Level Certifying program taught at local golf courses with the National School Program operating as a feeder system. In June of 2008, Foley and Al Armstead began The First Tee Certifying Program at Glen Miller Park with 65 kids participating. The old clubhouse was renamed The Cross/Van Pelt Facility, which became a classroom for the participants to be taught the Nine Core Values and Healthy Habits.

In 2012, Sam Witherby became the director of The First Tee of Indiana-Richmond, with the Richmond Chapter now falling under The First Tee of Indiana Chapter. Since then, participation has increased every year to the current enrollment of 175 kids – the second largest program location in the state.

Richmond utilizes dedicated, long-term volunteers and paid staff that includes the Richmond High School Girl’s and Boy’s Golf Coach, Caleb Snyder, as well as multiple collegiate level golfers. The staff is funded by sponsorships and local fundraising efforts. The Bo Van Pelt Tournament has also been created in support of The First Tee of Indiana-Richmond, with an overwhelming response from the community. Bo Van Pelt has made a special appearance 8 of the last 10 years, where he meets the kids and provides instruction, with First Tee participants playing alongside each foursome.

The community has been extremely generous in sponsorship dollars which has allowed the First Tee participation fee to stay at a low, affordable cost of $25.  Scholarships are available as well. All participants who are members of the Boys and Girls Club can also participate at no cost. Notable sponsors include: First Bank of Richmond, B&F Plastics, Manpower of Richmond, Smarrelli General Contractor, Texas Roadhouse, and Harrington-Hoch Insurance.

Since its inception, Richmond has been in a unique situation with The City of Richmond providing a private facility for First Tee programming at the Glen Miller Golf Course. The Park Department has provided maintenance and operations to support The Green Grass program. Through this mutualistic relationship, six greens, a practice putting green, a sand trap and a chipping area are maintained. In 2018, the watering system was rebuilt and the cost was shared by The Richmond Park’s Department and The First Tee of Indiana-Richmond. Richmond programming runs from June 1st through June 14th.  The sessions are 14-one hour sessions bi-weekly, with five classes a day, for four days a week by age group.

Richmond is now the second oldest program location in the state and serves as a role model for other cities. The Indiana Golf Association, Pro Golf Association and The First Tee of Indiana are collaborative groups with Andrew Gridley, The First Tee of Indiana Director of Operations, working directly with The First Tee of Indiana-Richmond for continued success. Richmond is also proud to have several Eagle Level participants including: Jaycee Cornett (2017), Sam Roberts and Andrew Click (2018). This past year, two Richmond participants were selected for Leadership Academies including: Jaycee Cornett at The Chubb Classic Academy in Naples and Brooke Killion at The John Deere Leadership Academy in Atlanta.

TFT Indiana Regional Directors, Ali Beam and Roger Lundy, participate in Indiana GOlf Charities Day

Come Monday, September 24th, at The Club at Chatham Hills in Westfield, Ali Beam and Roger Lundy will compete in the Indiana Golf Charities Day to help raise money for The First Tee of Indiana.  This will be the 5th year Indiana PGA Professional’s will be raising funds for local charities.  Each participating PGA Professional will play 72 holes to support the Indiana Golf Foundation, The First Tee of Indiana, and a charity of his or her choosing. Funds can be raised by pledges for birdies and eagles made by the participating PGA Professional, total golf holes played, or flat donations.

CLICK HERE to donate to Ali Beam, PGA donation page.

CLICK HERE to donate to Roger Lundy, PGA donation page.


96 teens from around the country to attend the Academy in East Lansing, Mich.

Franklin, IN 6/5/2018  – Ashton Cook from The First Tee of Indiana has been selected to attend the Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. Life Skills and Leadership Academy in East Lansing, Mich. July 25–July 31. Ashton Cook will join more than 90 junior golfers from The First Tee, ages 14–17, to participate in this national event.

The Academy provides participants golf and leadership instruction that incorporates The First Tee’s Nine Core Values. During the week-long event, participants will have the opportunity to develop and hone skills to become leaders in their chapters, schools and communities while experiencing championship golf, career exploration and dorm living.

During the week, Ashton Cook will learn from and interact with the top coaches in The First Tee network and meet a variety of teens from around the country.

I have known Ashton for over five (5) plus years now.  When I first met Ashton, he already had many of the life skills that the First Tee stresses.  This comes from him having great parents.  I have had the joy of watching him grow up and mature.  When Ashton first started coming to class I remember he would make a putt and dance around because he was so happy.    Now when he makes a putt, he smiles and gives a fist pump and moves on.  Ashton is one of the happiest kids I know.  Whenever you are having a bad day just seeing him play golf and his smile to be on the course will brighten your day.  I could ramble on and on about how he uses life skills that he learned at the chapter but the list will be never ending.  The skill that is the most impressive is that Ashton is honest and respectful.  He already had these qualities when he arrived at the chapter, but I think he started to notice that not all kids had these qualities.  Instead of following the other kids, Ashton stuck to his values and stayed honest and respectful.  The other kids started to take notice and started to follow what Ashton was doing.  He is a born leader; however, I am not sure if he realized the impact that he has on his friends, fellow participants and even myself before he started attending First Tee – Ali Beam.

The Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. Life Skills and Leadership Academy is focused on recognizing and rewarding exceptional teen participants in The First Tee for their accomplishments while enhancing skills that will help on and off the golf course.

The Academy is hosted by The First Tee headquarters and Michigan State University.

The First Tee is a youth sports organization whose mission is to grow the game of golf by transforming the experience that kids (and families) have with the sport. Through in-school and after-school programs, The First Tee introduces kids to the game of golf and Nine Core Values, while positively impacting their lives. For more information about The First Tee of Indiana visit  To request an interview with Cook, call 317-739-3017.


In late February, two of our First Tee participants, Jacey Cornett and Wynne Aldrich, were selected to compete in the Golf to Paradise First Tee Champions Challenge hosted by The First Tee of Naples/Collier. An invitation-only tournament that tied into the PGA Senior Tour event the Chubb Classic, ten chapters across the country selected two participants to compete in a three day, 27-hole tournament.

With nearly 20 years of combined First Tee experience, Jacey and Wynne have learned how to lead by example. Through The First Tee, both have attended camps that developed their leadership skills on and off the course. At their first experience on a national scale, Jacey and Wynne set the bar high for future Indiana participants, as they finished the tournament in a tie for third place.

The Champions Challenge was a unique experience from which the girls took away many memories. When asked what she enjoyed about the experience, Jacey said “It was really exciting for me to meet other girls my age that share the same passion for the game as I do! I also met my partner Wynne for the first time and now we are really good friends!” Wynne had a similar response and highlighted how the format gave her the opportunityto work on her teamwork skills. From a night at the beach with their fellow players, to a presentation delivered by Fred Funk, The First Tee of Naples/Collier delivered an unforgettable four days for Jacey and Wynne!


A Week to Remember

Unlike most 14 year-old boys, Ben Fencl didn’t spend his whole summer break going to the pool with friends or seeing action movies.  Instead, he learned how to be a leader in his community.

Ben was one of 96 participants selected from across the country to attend the 2017 First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy (LSLA) in East Lansing, Mich.  Participants were required to be at least 14 years of age, and were selected based on their golf skills, etiquette, and character demonstrated both on and off the golf course.

In late July, Ben attended the week-long leadership academy and enjoyed the variety that the program offered, as well as the friendships made along the way.

“On the first night, our group came up with adjectives for everyone that started with the first letter of our first name,” said Ben. “‘Bouncy’ became my nickname for the week, because I love moving around and never sit still.”

Ben described each day of the academy as different.  While the majority of time was spent on the golf course, other lessons were focused entirely on life skills.

“On certain mornings, speakers came to the dorms to teach lessons on life skills before we headed to the course,” said Ben.  “Probably the best thing that I learned that week was not to be afraid of failure, but instead, to learn from it, stay determined, and continue to try.”

In addition to daily lessons, participants also spent time getting to know each other and attending social outings.  During the evenings, they had the opportunity to play putt-putt, go bowling, and attend a minor league baseball game.

“I really liked meeting so many new people,” said Ben.  “I’m really looking forward to becoming more involved with other First Tee participants at home and hopefully teaching them some of the games that I learned that week.”

Ben will be a freshman this fall at North Central High School and a member of the men’s golf team.  With his newfound leadership and desire to help others succeed, we are sure to hear more about ‘Bouncy’ in the near future.