New-Look Tee Times Proudly Partners With The First Tee

By Gary Curreri

The First Tee of Broward, Palm Beaches, and the Treasure Coast will be sponsored by The Tee Times magazine this year.

“We admire the message which the First Tee network delivers to develop kids and teens lives skills and introduce them to golf,” said Tee Times General Manager Jeff Ward.

Carl Mistretta, Executive Director of the First Tee of The Palm Beaches/Treasure Coast/Broward, said they have been looking for a media partner for a long time.

“This is an incredible opportunity,” Mistretta said. “We are so excited about the new direction of the publication with it coming out as a magazine. It is going to be a fantastic partnership for us because it is going to promote all three of our chapters – Broward, the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast – which is very rare to find any avenue of the media that covers that entire area.”

Getting the word out about the children and veterans in the First Tee program is one of the things that Mistretta is looking forward to. He is also encouraged that the Chapter’s efforts will be publicized and shared with the golfing community.

“It is going to be a huge advantage to us because not many people truly understand the impact that the First Tee can truly have on an individual,” Mistretta said. “It is an organization where you can get in as young as 2 and 3-years-old and stay involved until you go to college. We even have college scholarship programs. So that part of it is very exciting where we are able to tell the story of these children and these veterans who have been with us for years.

“It’s a game where you can’t learn it in six weeks,” Mistretta added. “It takes a lot of commitment and that’s what we are all about.”

Mistretta said growing the game of golf is vital. He noted the First Tee is also about 48 percent female. The First Tee will have about 1,000 students in green grass programming in Palm Beach County, and about 450 in both Broward and the Treasure Coast. When you include in-school programming, about 100 schools, there are between 30 and 40,000 children who will be introduced to the national school program. They also partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs in all of the counties. 

“When you ask someone now how did you learn to play the game of golf you generally get two answers, either my parents or I caddied,” Mistretta said. “Now, a lot of parents aren’t introducing their kids anymore and that is where we come in.

“We spend a lot of time and a lot of money introducing the game to students and children who wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to try it out,” Mistretta added. “If they like it, then we want to make sure they have clubs, a place to play and it is a game they are going to play for the rest of their lives.”

Tee Times General Manager Jeff Ward became involved with the magazine in July and is converting it from newsprint to a glossy format with new features.

“I am super excited,” Ward said. “I haven’t been as excited about anything like this in business in my life because it brings two of my favorite things in life together and that is my family and golf.”

Ward said the sponsorship was something he couldn’t pass up. He said that Mistretta and Jack Bloomfield, the Director of the First Tee of Broward County, have been very encouraging.

“As soon as I became involved with Tee Times, the first thing I thought about was getting involved with the First Tee right away,” Ward said. “Not only will it create future golfers, but it also teaches people the core values that kids are not learning through other sources right now. I think it will also give them the greatest game ever invented. It will go with them for the rest of their lives.”

Ward said the great relationships in his life have been created through golf – businesswise and socially.

“There are more deals made on the golf course than any board room in the United States,” Ward said. “Those professionals that don’t include golf in their life are missing something. It is the greatest networking platform there is.”

He is also looking forward to continuing to trumpet the successes of the junior golfers in the publication.

“That was one of the things I looked for when I picked up Tee Times to see when a youngster did something spectacular or got an education through golf,” Ward said. “That was one of the first things I looked for and that made me realized that I wanted to be involved with the First Tee right away.

“We don’t want to be a Golf Digest or a national golf magazine,” Ward continued. “We want to keep our stories in South Florida and obviously there will be some overlap of national news, but it is going to be golf South Florida lifestyle. Promoting charitable events is going to be very big with us as well as helping the golf community.”

– Gary Curreri is a freelance writer based in South Florida.

The Tee Times partners with the PGA of America – South Florida Section

The South Florida Section of the PGA of America is an association of golf professionals whose mission is to promote interest, participation, and enjoyment in the game of golf; establish and maintain professional standards or practice, and enhance the well-being of golf professionals. Approximately 1,830 members and Associates are employed at over 460 facilities in the South Florida region, currently ranking the South Florida Section as the second-largest Section of PGA Professionals amongst all 41 PGA Sections in the United States. 

The section conducts numerous activities each year including:

  • Tournaments – 28+ championship events conducted April through December for South Florida PGA Professionals and Associates. Championships include team events and individual events and are held at first class facilities throughout the Section. 
  • PGA HOPE – introduces golf to Veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.
  • Smiling Fore Life – a program whereby SFPGA Professionals visit local children’s hospitals weekly. The PGA Professionals bring golf into children’s lives who may be experiencing hardship, and afford them with an opportunity to forget about the struggles they are experiencing, get out of their hospital room and enjoy a fun and new activity.
  • Drive, Chip & Putt and PGA Jr. League – are a culmination of local, subregional and regional qualifying events. Eighty junior golfers representing 30 U.S. states and one Canadian province have earned an invitation to Augusta National Golf Club to compete in the fifth annual National Finals, held on the eve of the Masters Tournament.
  • Junior Golf Programming including Junior Tours and Team Golf.
  • Education Seminars 
  • A minimum of two education seminars conducted annually for PGA Professionals and Associates Seminar topics vary from teaching, to marketing and running your facility to resume building and mock interviews.

In addition to the Section and its membership, in 2004 the South Florida PGA Foundation was established with a mission of impacting lives throughout the south Florida community through the game of golf. As a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization, the Foundation has had the ability to reach more than 15,000 individuals since its inception and that number continues to rise annually through the various programs and activities administered. 

The primary pillars of the South Florida PGA Foundation include: 

  • Charitable Gifting – $227,000 granted to local charities 
  • Community Outreach – Veterans – PGA HOPE (helping our patriots everywhere) – more than 550 veterans have learned the game of golf as a form of therapy since inception of the program in 2015.
  • Youth – Smiling Fore Life (children’s healthcare / hospital facility program) – more than 1,100 young hospital patients have been afforded the opportunity to get of their hospital room and forget about their hardships since inception of the program in 2011.
  • Families – Habitat for Humanity – 7 home builds have been built and $350,000 donated to assist deserving families in south Florida with a goal of building 14, one in every county of the Section including Puerto Rico 
  • Junior Golf – Annually more than 100 events are conducted for 1,300 junior golfers ranging in age from 6-18 
  • Scholarships – Each year one high school student headed to college receives a $20,000 scholarship to assist with their education 
  • Foundation Pro-Am’s
  • Numerous Pro-Am’s are conducted annually to help raise funds to support Foundation activities. Formats for each event vary. 

The Tee Times is so happy to be a sponsor of this great organization that serves South Florida golf.