About Golf & Life Skills

The focus the First Tee Gulf Coast is to give young people, ages 6-18, of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop, through golf and character education, life-enhancing values such as honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship.

The Life Skills Experience is one of the unique features that separates our program from many other junior golf programs.  The Life Skills Experience is used to further enhance and instill the inherent values of the game of golf, and show participants how these values transfer into other aspects of their lives.


Students are taught about responsibility, courtesy, how to make decisions by thinking about the possible consequences, how to set goals, how to define those goals, the importance of maintaining a positive attitude as well as the importance of showing respect for others. 

Through Life Skills Experience, participants learn valuable lessons about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude; how to make decisions by thinking about the possible consequences and how to define and set goals from the golf course to everyday life.

These lessons for life are taught through a variety of golf-related activities designed with the primary goal of having fun. Participants learn about themselves and others through a range of experiences enhancing their golf skills as well as their fundamental values for life. As their opportunities on the golf course expand, so do the opportunities for their futures.

The First Tee certification levels are PLAYer, Par, Birdie, Eagle, Ace. Each stage introduces young people to different aspects of golf and life skills.

The lessons learned through the Life Skills Experience are lessons that will remain with young people well into their future, regardless of how long they play golf as a recreation.

Class Explanation

TARGET: Children ages 5-7 who are new to golf or the First Tee Program.  In the TARGET level participants will use each letter in TARGET as a golf and life skill lesson.  Participants will be exposed to the driving range, chipping and pitching area and putting.  Fun games using SNAG equipment are also implemented into this level.  There is no testing in the TARGET Level.  Once a participant is able to demonstrate various golf fundamentals as well  as The First Tee Code of Conduct and is 7 years old, a First Tee – Greater Pasadena Coach will give a recommendation to move into the PLAYer level.

The First Tee Code of Conduct

Respect for myself

Respect for others

Respect for my surroundings

PLAYer:  Children ages 7 and above or participants who have progressed from the TARGET Level.  The PLAYer level is the introductory level of the First Tee Life Skills Experience.  PLAYer teaches participants how to play the game of golf with special emphasis on learning golf and the First Tee Nine Core Values.  These interpersonal and self-management skills will help participants develop much more than their golf game.  Testing is available after a participant is involved in at least 3 full sessions of PLAYer.

The Nine Core Values:

Respect, Courtesy Responsibility, Honesty, Sportsmanship, Confidence, Judgment, Perseverance, Integrity

PAR: First Tee members who are PLAYer Certified.  The PAR level builds on the PLAYer level by introducing PLAYers to the mental side of golf while learning skills that will help them on and off the golf course.  The main focus of the PAR level is to assist PLAYers in acquiring several self-management techniques that will help them manage their thoughts, emotions and behaviors in order to perform at their best on and off the golf course.  Testing is available after a participant is involved in at least 4 full sessions of PAR.

The 4 R’s (example of a Par lesson)





BIRDIE: First Tee members who are PAR Certified.  Of all the life skills in The First Tee Life Skills Experience, goal-setting is one of the most important.  The BIRDIE class is an adventure in learning. BIRDIE level concepts are complex. It is a process that takes time to master, so we have broken it down into manageable pieces. To be successful as a BIRDIE here are some ASSUMPTIONS:

  1. Golf is your sport
  2. It is probably something you will always like to do
  3. You want to get better
  4. You are serious about it
  5. You are willing to work hard at getting better.

You will learn how to SUCCEED. Not just in golf , but in your life in general. Your will learn about your DREAMS–those pictures in your mind of what things will be like in the future, be it soon or when your are and adult. You will be given the tools to make your dreams come true. You will learn what to do when you encounter and obstacle or road block to your path to realizing your dream(s). You will be asked to play and practice outside of your classes. Some of your classes will be taught on the course which will require you to get out of your comfort zones, which you learned in Par, to fully appreciate the lesson being taught.

EAGLE: First Tee members who are BIRDIE Certified.  The EAGLE level is designed for PLAYers who have demonstrated a commitment to both the game of golf and to attaining an associated set of Golf and Life Skills.  The typical EAGLE level PLAYer will demonstrate his/her ability to apply life skills, will have displayed a progression of golf skills acquisition and performance, and have been a role model for the First Tee Code of Conduct and our 9 Core Values and 9 Healthy Habits.  Testing is available after a participant is involved in at least 12 full session of EAGLE plus 12 hours of volunteer time as a junior coach at the TARGET,  PLAYer or Par levels.

ACE: First Tee members who are EAGLE Certified.  The ACE level offers advanced instruction and practice in many of the Golf and Life Skills introduced in the PLAYer, PAR, BIRDIE and EAGLE levels.  ACE focuses on personal planning and reinforces interpersonal communication, self-management, goal-setting, self-coaching and resiliency skills that were applied in earlier levels of First Tee Life Skills Curriculum. ACE certification generally requires 2 years and is administered and monitored by a Nationally Recognized The First Tee Coach ONLY.

If someone is having difficulty with an aspect of the testing process, instructors will help review the material and let him or her try again. Each of the testing and evaluation forms state the specific score required to pass the golf and life skills sections at the PLAYer, Par and Birdie and Eagle levels.

The testing and evaluation for life and golf skills is done at the same time so participants understand the life skills are as important, if not more so, than their golf skills.