The First Tee program has long been recognized for its ability to introduce young people to the game of golf, instill core values and develop important life skills. But it’s not just about golf; the program fosters friendships, builds character and creates opportunities for kids from all backgrounds. Liz Keener, a First Tee – Central Ohio alum, is a shining example of the program’s impact on participants and its ability to shape kids and teens into confident, community-minded adults.
A Life-Changing Invitation
Liz’s journey with First Tee began when she was in middle school. She wasn’t from a golfing family, and her initial perception of golf was not something that interested her. However, a friend invited her to join a summer golf camp through First Tee, and that decision would prove to be a life-changing one.
Liz quickly discovered that First Tee was different. It welcomed individuals of all skill levels and backgrounds, making golf accessible to everyone. She found camaraderie among fellow students, dispelling her preconceived notions about the sport. “For me, First Tee was a great introduction to a fun community of like-minded students who made the sport really fun,” Liz explained. It was that sense of community and shared passion that kept her coming back.
Giving Back and Inspiring Others
Liz’s dedication to golf continued through high school, where she joined her school’s golf team. As a First Tee participant, she also volunteered her time and eventually became a staff member. She took pride in giving back to an organization that had provided her with valuable life skills, opportunities and even a scholarship that covered her tuition at The Ohio State University.
Throughout her college years, Liz stayed connected to First Tee, helping lead programs for First Tee students at Ohio State. She cherished the friendships she made and the chance to share her story with a wider audience, emphasizing the importance of the program’s values and community outreach. “Just the principle of spreading golf beyond the traditional students was really big and important to me,” Liz stated. “I would consider myself not a typical golf participant. First Tee reaches kids like me, who don’t come from a golf family, or may not have access to the game readily available.”
Lifelong Friendships and Lessons
When asked about her biggest takeaways from her years with First Tee, Liz remembered three essential elements: opportunities, friendships, and life lessons. She experienced opportunities for personal and professional growth, including a scholarship and unique experiences like meeting golf legend Jack Nicklaus.
However, what truly stands out for Liz are the friendships she developed through the program. First Tee’s focus on building character had a more profound impact on her than just improving her golf game. It’s the friendships and life lessons that remain with her to this day. “First Tee didn’t just help me become a better golfer,” Liz said. “I feel like I got a lot of relational soft skills and life lessons out of the program. More than just focusing on being the best golfer I can possibly be.”
Commitment to First Tee’s Mission
Today, Liz is giving back to First Tee by serving on the newly formed FTCO Ambassadors Council. As an alum, she provides a unique perspective and is passionate about helping the organization to expand its impact.
Liz’s journey with First Tee – Central Ohio showcases the program’s mission to empower kids and teens to reach their potential, both on and off the course. Her story highlights the transformative power of First Tee, where friendships, opportunities, and life lessons come together to create confident, community-minded individuals who are well-prepared for success in life. Liz’s advocacy serves as an inspiration for others to get involved and make a positive impact on the next generation.
Help Us Build Game Changers Like Liz
This holiday season we’re teeing up the opportunity to make a lasting impact in the lives of local kids and teens. During our 12 Days of Giving you can join us in building game changers by supporting our character-building programming.
Your gift helps us impact kids and teens throughout Central Ohio.