The Life Skills Experience is comprised of the Life Skills curriculum (known as the Nine Core Value behaviors at the PLAYer level), the Golf Skills curriculum and the Nine Healthy Habits. It consists of four certification levels, starting with PLAYer for new participants and progressing through Par, Birdie, and Eagle. Each level can be delivered seamlessly with a variety of golf skills and fundamentals. In addition to the four certification levels, The First Tee of the Virginia Peninsula offers Little Linksters as an introduction to the Life Skills Experience, and Ace, the advanced level of the Life Skills Experience. The program is self-paced, encouraging participants to explore and assess their abilities and set corresponding goals to meet national certification requirements. Certification is conducted periodically throughout the year.

How Certification Works

1. Minimum Age – Each student must meet the minimum age requirements.

2. Written Assessment – Each student must pass 2 written tests. The written tests focus on information covered in class including core values, life skills, golf etiquette, and golf rules.

4. Golf Skills Demonstration – Each student will be required to demonstrate minimum levels of proficiency in regards to their golf abilities (putting, chipping and full swing).

5. Coach Recommendation – Each student must receive a recommendation from their current level coach before advancing. If a student’s coach does not feel they are ready to advance, they will not be allowed to move on. Chapter staff will communicate directly with coaches to determine which students are able to advance.

6. Advancement – Once a participant has met all of the above criteria (details below) they will be moved up to the next level. The participant will attend her/his new class level at the beginning of the next season.

Little Linksters

Available to participants ages 5 and 6. Little Linksters introduces young people to golf through activities that promote curiosity for the game and that focus on hand-eye coordination. Participants are exposed to part of The First Tee Life Skills Experience presented in the acronym TARGET: Take aim, Anyone can play, Respect, Golf is a game, Enjoy Yourself, and Try it.

PLAYER

Minimum age 7 –
PLAYer is the entry level for The First Tee certification program, regardless of golf ability. The PLAYer level helps establish the foundation for young people to become lifelong players of the game, with an emphasis on learning the game’s rules and etiquette, The First Tee Code of Conduct, and the Nine Core Values. Participants are split up by age and golf ability during class, where they work on putting, chipping, pitching, and full swing, focusing on set-up, distance-control, and target awareness.

PLAYer CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Core Lesson Exposure: At least 27 hours of exposure
Life Skill Knowledge (Learn): Correctly answer 10/12 written (or verbal) questions.
Golf Knowledge (Appreciate): Correctly answer 8/10 written (or verbal) questions.
Playing Requirement: One 9-hole round where PLAYer demonstrates they can play fast, safe, and courteous. They must honestly record their score, but no specific score is required.
Putting: One 9-hole putting round where PLAYer demonstrates they can play fast, safe, and courteous with a maximum score of 34.

Observable Behaviors: In addition to the certification requirements, coaches look for certain behaviors during classes. At the PLAYer Level, those behaviors are: Showing Respect, Courtesy Towards Others, Responsibility for the Course, Being Honest, Modeling Sportsmanship, Developing Confidence, Using Good Judgment, Playing with Perseverance, and Living with Integrity.

PAR

Recommended minimum age 9 –
Par is the second level in The First Tee. Participants learn techniques for managing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors on and off the golf course, while continuing to develop their golf skills working on body balance, clubface and ball contact, and swing rhythm,

Par CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Core Lesson Exposure: At least 36 hours of exposure
Life Skill Knowledge: Correctly answer 15/18 written (or verbal) questions
Golf Knowledge: Correctly answer 12/15 written (or verbal) questions
Playing Requirement: One 9-hole round where PLAYer demonstrates they can play fast, safe, and courteous. They must honestly record their score, completing the round in 72 strokes or less.
Putting: One 9-hole putting round where PLAYer demonstrates they can play fast, safe, and courteous with a maximum score of 27.
Short Game: Complete a 3-hole, up-and-down course with a maximum score of 12.

Observable Behaviors: In addition to the certification requirements, coaches look for PLAYers to demonstrate an understanding of the Par curriculum: Exploring the GAME, Respecting the Rules, Meeting and Greeting with Ask-Listen-Respond, the Three Tips for Having Fun, Staying Cool, and Finding Your Personal Par.

BIRDIE

Recommended minimum age 11 –
Birdie is the third level in The First Tee. Participants focus on setting and achieving meaningful goals on and off the golf course, while they start to refine their golf skills working on swing rhythm, and pre-shot and post-shot routines.

Birdie CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Core Lesson Exposure: At least 48 hours of exposure
Life Skill Knowledge: Correctly answer 20/24 written (or verbal) questions
Golf Knowledge: Correctly answer 16/20 written (or verbal) questions
Playing Requirement: FIVE 9-hole rounds where PLAYer demonstrates they can play fast, safe, and courteous. They must honestly record their scores, completing each round in 63 strokes or less. Distance requirement: 1,900-2,500 yards
Putting: One 9-hole putting round with a maximum score of 23.
Short Game: Complete a 6-hole, up-and-down course with a maximum score of 21.
Full Swing (Greens): Must hit 3 out of 6 greens from a distance of 55-75 yards away.

Observable Behaviors: In addition to the certification requirements, coaches look for PLAYers to demonstrate an understanding of the Birdie curriculum: Dreams and Goals, Setting Goals that are Positive and Important to You, Setting Goals that are Specific and Under Your Control, Different Types of Goals, Getting to Your Goal through a Goal Ladder, and Dealing with Challenges – STAR.

EAGLE

Recommended minimum age 13 –
Eagle is the fourth level in The First Tee. Emphasis on learning resilience, conflict resolution, and future planning.

Eagle CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Core Lesson Exposure: At least 60 hours of exposure
Life Skill Knowledge: Correctly answer 25/30 written (or verbal) questions
Golf Knowledge: Correctly answer 20/25 written (or verbal) questions
Playing Requirement: TEN 18-hole rounds where PLAYer demonstrates they can play fast, safe, and courteous. They must honestly record their scores, completing each round in 108 strokes or less. Distance requirement: 5,000-6,000 yards.
Putting: One 9-hole putting round with a maximum score of 18.
Short Game: Complete a 9-hole, up-and-down course with a maximum score of 27.
Full Swing (Greens): Must hit 3 out of 6 greens from a distance of 80-100 yards away.
Full Swing (Fairways): Must hit 3 out of 6 fairways with a required distance of 160-190 yards to a fairway that is 40-45 yards wide
Volunteering: complete 27 hours of volunteering with The First Tee of The Virginia Peninsula in whatever capacity a PLAYer chooses

Observable Behaviors: In addition to the certification requirements, coaches look for PLAYers to demonstrate an understanding of the Eagle curriculum: Wellness, Go-To-Team, Appreciating Diversity, CARE, Go-To-Person, Planning for the Future.

ACE

Required minimum age 14 or entering 9th grade
Ace is the fifth and final level in The First Tee. Participants put it all together and hone in on setting goals, career education, and giving back to the community.

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