CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Children can learn a few things from a golfer about being good citizens.
“Golfers, in general, learn respect for the game because they monitor their own behavior,” said Charlie Keiser, owner/broker of Century 21 Keiser and Co. “They call their own penalties. They learn a little personal integrity by learning the rules of the game. Golf really teaches kids to be better people. It is a good life skills program.”
Keiser and his wife, Susie, were among community leaders and members of the Marble Falls Daybreak Rotary Club who donated seed money to launch a program at Colt Elementary School that uses golf as a vehicle in physical education programs to build character in young students.
Marble Falls Independent School District educators will incorporate the 1st Tee National School Program into their curriculum in September with teacher training, golfing equipment, resources and lesson plans provided by the program.
“It’s a unique model in that we actually train physical education teachers inside their own school, teaching them how to teach golf but also how to bridge a lot of the inherent values in golf into real-life situations,” said Jennifer MacCurrach, executive director of 1st Tee of Greater Austin. “In golf, we self-officiate. In real life, we’re supposed to self-officiate. There’s a lot of interpersonal communications that goes on.”
Founded in 1999, 1st Tee of Greater Austin owns and operates the Harvey Penick Golf Campus in Austin and hosts programs at Falconhead and Onion Creek golf courses, Mr. Tee’s Driving Range and Topgolf.
The Austin-area program is established at all elementary and middle school campuses in Manor ISD, in four elementary schools in Round Rock ISD and at two Austin Charter Schools.
Program officials reported a 98 percent high school graduation rate for children who participated, MacCurrach said.
To bring 1st Tee to Marble Falls ISD, more than a dozen donors contributed $3,200 for its Colt Elementary debut.
The starter kit includes equipment to serve up to 500 kids in kindergarten through eighth grade with modified golf clubs for 30 students at a time for indoors or outdoors activities.
Equipment and resources include targets, clubs, balls, tee mats and lesson plans.
“I think the kids are going to embrace it. The parents and the school system will embrace it (for) the life skills they gain and the enthusiasm they have to play golf,” MacCurrach said. “There is such a strong golf culture (in Marble Falls), so I bet the program will really take off.”
Keiser added that the program specializes “in making good citizens as well as teaching the etiquette of the game. It’s a great social as well as physical sport to be involved with all your life.”