Arizona spends $375K in expanding golf program for underserved children

Arizona will give kids who aren’t likely to golf the chance to pick up some of the sport’s better virtues.

Students in rural and underserved communities will have the chance to participate in the Tee Up Healthy Students Program, which uses golf to “build character, instill values and promote healthy choices,” Gov. Doug Ducey’s office announced Monday.

At a cost of $375,000, Ducey’s office expects the program’s current student participation of 150,000 students in 15 Maricopa County school districts to significantly expand to rural Arizona.

“Organizations like First Tee help our state build new safety nets to support vulnerable kids and families,” Ducey said. “Remaining active, fostering social relationships and learning new skills are great ways Arizona kids can prepare for their futures and lead healthy lives. In Arizona, we will continue to support kids in need – and I thank the team at First Tee for all they do.”

The program is offered via First Tee’s Arizona chapters. The nonprofit aims to bring affordable golf programs to youth and communities that don’t have them.

“The Tee Up Healthy Students Program will ensure more kids in need have the opportunity to get fresh air, move around and connect with others so they become well-rounded and are prepared for their future educational and professional endeavors,” Board Chair of First Tee-Phoenix Herman Lewkowitz said.

The program doesn’t appear to be sending kids to any of the state’s hundreds of golf courses, rather working with Phoenix-based Journeyage to deliver the programs virtually. First Tee has seen a successful track record of involving underprivileged kids in the golf community. Two Phoenix-area teens played in the 2021 PURE Insurance Championship on Sept. 20-26 at Pebble Beach, California.

The spending comes three months after Ducey announced $65 million in state and federal funding to support K-12 literacy, adult education and teacher development.

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