First Things First at First Tee-Cleveland, KIDS

by | Apr 12, 2024 | EA Staff News, Public Spaces, Parks & Recreation, Volunteering

When former Cleveland Indians player Andre Thornton heard about the mission of First Tee, a youth development organization that integrates the game of golf with a life skills curriculum to build inner strength, self confidence, and resilience, he knew Cleveland needed a chapter. In 1999 he gathered a group of volunteers to get the process started.

They bought a piece of property. a trash dump site in Newburgh Heights, and turned it into a beautiful par three, nine-hole golf course managed by the Cleveland Metroparks. Washington Golf Course is a green oasis (Audubon Gold Certified) just minutes from downtown with amazing views of the city skyline. The home course for First Tee-Cleveland, programming is also offered at seven public golf courses around the region including Grafton, Euclid, Mentor, South Amherst, Solon, and Westlake.

Washington Golf Course
photo courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks

Twenty five years later and one of the 150 worldwide chapters of First Tee, Pat LoPresti, Executive Director and Mary Patton, Director of Development and Marketing proudly shared their new headquarters, with the EA Team.

EA staff took turns on the indoor putting green

With the support of both a small team of full and part time staff and 200 trained volunteer coaches, First Tee introduces golf and life lessons in a safe and inclusive environment with programs such as:

  • Summer lessons and camps
  • Game simulators for all types of sports, including golf
  • Caddy training – learn life skills and earn good money during the summer
  • Fit to A Tee – Winter Saturdays cooking and nutrition classes in their state of the art kitchen
Pat LoPresti shows kitchen space for Fit to A Tee cooking experiences
  • Community partnerships bring First Tee onsite to organizations such as America Scores and Young Men Growing and are looking for additional collaborations
  • Integrating First Tee’s golf curriculum into many schools PE programs
entrance way light fixture resembles the inside of a golf hole cup

All 66 elementary schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District participate in First Tee-Cleveland programs along with partnerships with dozens of other schools.

EA’s Cari Ross putts under the watchful eye of First Tee’s Pat LoPresti

First Tee’s new headquarters can be rented out for corporate and private events including cooking classes, gaming competitions, and of course, golf! This revenue stream will help offset the costs to deliver its programs to thousands of kids.

EA’s Michele Barksdale putts on the indoor green

Executive Arrangements hears from newcomers that they are looking for ways to connect personally and professionally. Volunteering is one way to meet people and develop a community. Learning about opportunities at First Tee-Cleveland gives us first hand information to share with your candidates and families. If your organization’s talent attraction and onboarding to CLE/AKN could use a boost, EA is your hole in one! Call us at 216.231.9311.