One of the newest Jordan Spieth Family Foundation partners, The First Tee of Greater Houston, impacts numbers of kids large and small, from 350,000 to eleven or so. Yes, 350,000. And growing.
The Greater Houston chapter now has programs at nearly 500 schools in 30 school districts, allowing it to reach 350,000 kids.
“We partner with elementary schools, get the teachers trained and get them equipment, while teaching them the nine core values during school days,” Brian Ladet, program director for the First Tee of Great Houston, said.
It also has 13 green grass locations around the Houston area, accommodating 2,000 regular participants a year in the First Tee, where they learn life skills and golf simultaneously.
No less important is the smaller program for kids with autism, usually eight to 11 of them meeting every Friday at the First Tee facility at the Houston Golf Association headquarters.
“We definitely see the progression and their excitement and love for the game and the activity,” Ladet said. “They’re able to be outside and give this sport a chance.”
They receive instruction on the full swing, the short game and putting and other areas of the game. It also addresses the First Tee’s core values.
“I could definitely see their progress over the course of the year from a skills perspective, and also coming in and being comfortable, looking us in the eye, greeting us,” Ladet said.
The program was started by Derek Clouse, a teaching professional at the Golf Club of Houston, who has an autistic son, Ladet said. The Ernie Els Foundation, in an effort to raise awareness about autism, hosted an event at the Golf Club of Houston, and Clouse was asked to conduct a clinic for participants from local autistic programs, of them Including Kids.
“They really enjoyed the game and wanted to experience more,” Ladet said. “Derek offered to meet with them once a week at no charge to continue their progression with the sport. Derek made our program aware and we moved their classes next door to our facility and have continued the class with their group each Friday morning.”
We are very familiar with The First Tee programming, and big fans of what they do, and the Houston chapter has always been a strong group. We are excited to be a multi-year partner with them as their initiatives and life-skill lessons, big and small, make positive impact in the lives of so many young people.
The Jordan Spieth Family Foundation recently committed to a grant financially assisting the First Tee of Greater Houston for three years, a timely partnership in the wake of a Title Sponsor having ended its long-time sponsorship of the Houston Open. The First Tee was among the beneficiaries of the Shell Houston Open’s charitable contributions.
“Losing them was pretty detrimental to our First Tee,” Claire Bey said. Bey is the director of fund development for the Houston Golf Association and the First Tee of Greater Houston. “The Jordan Spieth Family Foundation stepping up at a critical time with funding was instrumental to our keeping the program as effective as it is. We serve 350,000 kids. It couldn’t have been more important to us.”
The team at the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation, meanwhile, will travel to Houston in January to attend the First Tee’s Nine Core Values event, reinforcing a partnership that touches on two of the four pillars embraced by the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation — junior golf and special needs youth (the others are military and pediatric cancer).