04:36 PM

PGA champs team up with First Tee youth teams for golf challenge


The American Family Insurance Championship invited youth teams from The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin, an organization supported by the event, to participate in a skills challenge at University Ridge Golf Course on June 20. This event gave area kids an opportunity to meet their role models and showcase their talent.

PGA Champions and Wisconsin natives Jerry Kelly, Skip Kendall, Andy North, Jim Schuman and Steve Stricker joined 15 youth teams for The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin Skills Challenge. The First Tee is a nonprofit organization that helps youth improve their golf skills while building character and developing core values. The Skills Challenge, which took place as part of the American Family Insurance Championship festivities, gave The First Tee participants an opportunity to showcase their skills, meet professional golfers and compete to win a trophy.

“The fact that our local guys are so invested in our kids and the community that they come back and share their experience is fantastic,” said Brad Munn, head coach for The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin. 

While the organization is centered in golf, it also equips young people with tools to succeed on and off the course.

In addition to golf lessons, The First Tee operates learning centers where students have access to tutors, healthy snacks and organized activities that enable them to practice life skills such as goal-setting and decision-making. The First Tee has two learning centers in Madison focused on reading and math — the North Side Learning Center at Cherokee Country Club and the West Side Learning Center at Vitense Golfland. The centers give kids a chance to meet new friends and spend time together while working on academics.

“Golf gives you a sense of perseverance and confidence to achieve the things you want to do whether that’s on the course or in the classroom,” said Nate Savado, outreach coordinator for The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin. “Once you introduce kids to those challenges, the world is endless for them.”

The First Tee Learning Centers help students develop reading and math skills as part of the organization’s mission to close the achievement gap in Madison area schools. The center at Vitense Golfland serves nearly 400 students and provides 4,000 hours of academic support and golf programming annually.

“First Tee has helped me so much,” said Austin Jackson, 13, a member of The First Tee. “The Learning Center has a great atmosphere. I know I can go there and get my work done with no distractions and then see my friends, so it’s a lot of fun.”

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These teams participated in the skills challenge:

Pleasant View Golf Club

Bishop’s Bay Country Club

Maple Bluff Country Club

Cherokee Country Club

Door Creek Golf Course

The Oaks Golf Course

Nakoma Country Club

Madison Parks

Bergamont Golf Club

Hawks Landing Golf Club

University Ridge Golf Course

Blackhawk Country Club

Reedsburg Country Club

Edelweiss Golf and Country Club

Janesville Country Club