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First Tee starts small but growing bigger

The First Tee Board President Mike Ferguson with Executive Director Adrienne Fields. (J.T. Keith Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Golf is a metaphor for life, all that is good in life should be found in athletic competition. With only a few members in 2007, the First Tee program in Roswell has grown to an international organization with 180 chapters.

First Tee is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that teaches life skills, core values and healthy habits through the game of golf. Sprinkled in are a little academics. Adrienne Fields became involved over 10 years ago when her husband, Crae Fields, and Larry Fields and Jerry Childress began the program.
Its nine core values of Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Respect, Confidence, Responsibility, Perseverance, Courtesy, and Judgment stand for what a young golfer should display on the golf course and in life.
Another golfer who has come through the program is Peyton Jones. Jones has achieved at a high level making it to the Junior World’s Golf Championship in Carlsbad, Calif., this year.
“We are so proud of Peyton,” said Adrienne Fields, executive director of The First Tee of Southeastern New Mexico. “He’s a wonderful young man.”
First Tee organization has grown so fast it has built The First Tee Learning Center at several different locations; New Mexico Military Institute, Ruidoso, Hobbs, Carlsbad, Lovington, and a summer camp.

The program features classes in goal-setting, conflict management with students ranging from preschool to ages 17 to 18 years old. For beginners in golf, First Tee offers Starting New At Golf (SNAG) as they try to develop players mentally and appropriately in safe equipment for elementary school-aged kids, while incorporating the First Tee’s nine healthy habits.
As the golfers get older, they gradually are incorporated with professional instruction to set them up in success for such things as college recruitment and programs to play at Pebble Beach.
Gavan Jones, another golfer who is in the program, finished fourth at the 2017 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
“We want to create good golfers,” Fields said. “But at the end of the day, we want to enable them to be good human beings.”
The program tries to teach golf etiquette, course management, with overall preparation of the game of golf.
“We take a holistic approach toward the person, not just the golfer,” Fields said. “We really are looking forward to helping young people grow up to be the best they can be in all areas. If golf teaches that, it’s wonderful.”
The organization believes in making golf accessible to people from all walks of life. The program is not free, First Tee provides scholarships to anyone in need. The fall semester just started and will continue to accept new applications. With over 10,000 children in southeastern New Mexico, the program continues to grow.
“This whole area has such awesome golf,” Fields said.