Program overview

First Tee—South Dakota improves the lives of young people be providing educational programs and learning environments that promote character development and positive values through the game of golf.  The First Tee Life Skills experience enables participants to 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.  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.

Paralleling the structure of the golf instruction program, the First Tee Life Skills Curriculum is divided into five levels, starting with PLAYer and progressing through Par, Birdie, Eagle, and Ace. We also offer target registered programming for our youngest golfers in the Little Duffers Program.

The PLAYer level helps establish the foundation for young people to become life-long PLAYers of the game. The Par level focuses on the fundamental communication and self-management skills. The Birdie level deals primarily with goal-setting. The Eagle level gives participants advanced instruction and continued practice on mastering Par and Birdie level skills, as well as additional topics, such as conflict management, mentoring, and career planning. Ace level is the most advanced and shows mastery of skills.

Each level consists of life skills modules, and every module contains a “core” lesson that all participants must be exposed to. Examples of these life skills consist of: Meet & Greet, Character Development, Conflict Resolution, Dreams, Goals, Building a Go-to-team, and Appreciating Diversity. The core lessons are suitable for delivery to any age group. In addition, the each module includes activities. Some give participants additional practice in the core life skills, others deal with the application of life skills to non-golf situations at home or school.

In addition to being exposed to the core lessons and the concepts in each lesson, each level consists of a certifications process they must complete in order to pass the certification and move to the next level in the program. Their understanding of these concepts is enhanced through role-plays, golf-related activities, and yardage book exercises.  As part of the First Tee Certification Process, participants must demonstrate that they understand and can apply the core life skills by answering written questions and performing skills for an instructor. When they meet certification requirements, they progress to the next level.  Each level can and should take multiple seasons to complete.

First Tee provides tremendous opportunities for young people to achieve success both in golf and in life, so we encourage all junior golfers to participate in the certification process. More information will be available to parents prior to the first class and you can learn more about the First Tee Life Skills experience at or at our chapter website.

No young person will be turned away from the First Tee programs because of an inability to pay.

Volunteers are always needed -you don’t need to play golf to be an effective role model or volunteer for our program. Sign Up to be a volunteer.