Why Golf?

Experiences are our greatest teacher. First Tee believes in developing the ones that are just as fun as they are meaningful, where kids feel excited to grow, safe to fail, and better equipped for whatever comes their way next. Through our personal growth and junior golf programs, we see kids’ build self confidence, inspiring more active participation in leadership opportunities and events, community involvement, and college scholarships.

Because our mission is broader than simply teaching young people how to play golf, First Tee of the Inland Northwest also has a strong character development component – the Life Skills Experience. Life Skills is one of the unique features differentiating our organization from other successful junior golf programs.

Through Life Skills, young people inherit more than the ability to understand and enjoy the game of golf. Participants are taught important Life Skills that encourage improved self-image, positive attitude, problem-solving, decision-making, integrity, and sportsmanship. Taught and reinforced through a variety of golf-related exercises, these life skills are designed to help young people apply values from the golf course to everyday life.

On the Golf Course

Junior golf is just part of First Tee. Through our program that strengthens character, kids will learn life skills that stay with them into the rest of their lives, like:

  • Understanding and managing emotions
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Setting up step-by-step goals
  • Planning for the future
  • Appreciating diversity

Advancing through the Program

Participants progress through levels by demonstrating inner strength, character, and the life and golf skills they have learned. All participants regardless of age start at the PLAYer level.

  • Introduction to the First Tee program (ages 5 and older)
  • PLAYer (required minimum age 7) – Tee it up for the first time and learn the game of golf and First Tee’s Code of Conduct
  • Par (recommended minimum age 9) – Focus on interpersonal and self-management skills on and off the course
  • Birdie (recommended minimum age 11) – Emphasis on setting goals and making them a reality
  • Eagle (recommended minimum age 13) – Learn resilience, conflict resolution, and future planning
  • Ace (required minimum age 14 or entering 9th grade) – Put it all together and hone in on setting goals, career education, and giving back to the community

New Student Information

Things you might need to know…

How old does my student need to be in order to participate in classes?

  • The minimum starting age for Life Skills classes is 7 years old with students eligible for participation until they graduate high school.

How much does it cost for my student to participate in programming?

  • PLAYer level sessions are $150 per participant
  • Par/Birdie/Eagle session are $200 per participant
  • Golf camps, tournaments, and special events carry additional cost depending on the event
  • Financial aid and payment plans are available as no child is ever turned away for inability to pay

How long are classes?

  • Life Skills classes are typically 1 hour long for PLAYer
  • Life Skills classes are typically 1.5 hours long for PAR, BIRDIE, EAGLE


  • Every student NEW to the First Tee must start at the PLAYer level.
  • We are a progressive developmental program so golf skills alone do not determine a student’s level.
  • Length of time at each level depends on the student’s ability to show understanding, exhibition, and continual use of our Nine Core Values and Life Skills being taught as well as continued improvement in their golf skills. (see the “Certification” section for more information)

Does my student need their own equipment?

  • We supply all the necessary equipment for students to participate in class. If they already have their own, we encourage them to bring it to each class.
  • Please make sure your student is dressed appropriately for the weather and that they are wearing tennis shoes or golf shoes (no flip-flops or sandals)
  • Each student is required to bring a water bottle with their name on it (water provided – no food)

Can my student start classes today?

  • Classes are offered in multiple sessions throughout the year
  • Students cannot enter a session in the middle and must wait until the start of a new session with registration being required
  • Select a PLAYer level class in the next session based on your student’s age and your schedule. Example – If you choose a Tuesday at 5 pm, your student will go to that class on that day and time for the entire session.

Where are First Tee classes offered?

  • We have 4 program locations: The Creek at Qualchan (home course), Deer Park, The Highlands in Post Falls, and our Indoor Learning Center located in Spokane Valley.
  • Students take all classes at the location for which they registered

Program Levels

With the First Tee Life Skills Experience, participants advance through four levels of achievement: Player, Par, Birdie, and Eagle. Each stage of the program introduces young people to different aspects of golf and life skills. Advancing from one level to the next is accomplished by demonstrating acquired life skills, learning the rules of golf, posting a required number of rounds on the golf course, and having the recommendation of the instructor.

Golf & Life Skills Experience Class Progression

Life skills for each class are not taught separately, but are seamlessly incorporated into the golf instruction. Written and practical assessments on both golf and life skills are given throughout the class sessions to measure competency and readiness for certification to the next level. Repeated exposure to core lessons, especially with younger participants is expected. On average, students usually require 3-4 complete sessions prior to being “certified” to their next level.

Each class level has a specific curriculum of life skills developmentally appropriate to specific age groups. As such, younger children in PLAYer or PAR level classes, who may be accomplished golfers, may need to continue participation at their current level or specialty classes, clinics, camps, mixers and tournaments until they have obtained the life skills and core values associated with that level and reached the minimum age requirements for other class levels.

The First Tee Class Descriptions

PLAYer – This level builds on the fact that youth have many opportunities to play a variety of sports. It places a special emphasis on playing the game of golf, learning the etiquette of the game, and appreciating the rules of the game. The First Tee Nine Core Values provide the foundation for this introductory level.

Students will remain in the appropriate PLAYer level for their age group until they have met the minimum age requirement for PAR, and successfully met all certification requirements to move to the next level.

PAR – This program level is for those participants who have reached the age of nine (9), completed the requirements for PLAYer, and passed the certification tests. PAR focuses on interpersonal and self-management skills.

BIRDIE – This program level is for those participants that have reached the age of eleven (11), completed the requirements for PAR, and passed the certification tests. Birdie builds on the interpersonal and self-management skills taught at the Par level while incorporating goal-setting and resiliency life skills.

EAGLE – This program level is for those participants that have reached the age of thirteen (13), completed the requirements for Birdie, and passed the certification test. Eagle builds on the four Life Skills taught in previous levels while adding a focus on becoming a PLAYer for LIFE, both on and off the course.

ACE – This program is for returning participants ages fourteen (14) and older who have completed the Eagle program. They are given assignments that require them to utilize their newly acquired Life Skills and Core Values in daily life as well as mentoring younger participants within First Tee.


Certification To Next Level

The primary purpose of First Tee Certification is to ensure every participant certified at the PLAYer, Par, Birdie, and Eagle levels has acquired a designated level of golf and life skills proficiency. More specifically, students should be able to: a) Understand and demonstrate life skills, such as interpersonal skills, self-management, goal-setting, and resilience skills; b) Display a progression of golf skill acquisition and performance; c) Appreciate the importance of exhibiting these attitudes and behaviors in daily experiences both on and off the golf course.

First Tee Certification Process has four major elements: completion of golf and life skills lessons, the playing requirement, the short written test, and the instructor evaluation. If a participant is having difficulty with any of these elements, instructors will help review the material and let him or her try again. Each of the testing and evaluation forms state the specific score required to pass the golf and life skills sections at the Par and Birdie levels.

At each program level, participants will complete the required life skills lessons and golf skills lessons stated for that level. For life skills, the requirement is to complete the core lesson material. Completion of optional topics and activities are a plus, but are not mandatory. If any participant misses a core lesson, the material must be made up, either through one-on-one instruction or a makeup class, before he or she undergoes certification testing and evaluation.

Playing Requirement
At each level, participants will play a certain number of posted rounds on a chapter course – one round at the Par level and five rounds at the Birdie level – and bring their scorecards to their evaluation. In addition, at all levels, participants will play a nine-hole putting course to demonstrate basic putting skills. Instructors observe some of these rounds to ensure that the player negotiates the course expeditiously and in accordance with basic rules, etiquette, and safety guidelines. At the Par level, participants also will complete a chipping and pitching drill.

Written Test
For life skills and golf skills, each participant is given a short written evaluation consisting of true-false and matching questions. Where possible, instructors will administer the evaluation for golf skills and life skills at the same time.

Instructor Evaluation: The instructor evaluation is a one-on-one interview in which the instructor watches the participant demonstrate a life or golf skill or talks with the participant about the life skills concepts. For the Birdie level, instructors check participants’ Yardage Books to make sure they have completed goal-setting activities.

Testing and evaluation for life and golf skills are done concurrently, so participants understand that their life skills are as important, if not more so, than their golf skills.


Life Skills& Core Values

There are four general Life Skills and Nine First Tee Core Values that are taught as part of every core lesson. Essentially, core lessons give participants multiple opportunities to be exposed to, experience, develop, apply, and eventually master interpersonal skills, self-management, goal-setting, and resilience skills through specific techniques that can be utilized on and off the golf course.

Lesson 1: Showing Respect
Lesson 2: Courtesy toward others
Lesson 3: Responsibility for the course
Lesson 4: Honesty of players
Lesson 5: Modeling Sportsmanship
Lesson 6: Developing  Confidence
Lesson 7: Using Good Judgment
Lesson 8: Playing with Perseverance
Lesson 9: Living with Integrity

Lesson 1: Exploring the Game
Lesson 2: Respecting the Rules
Lesson 3: Meeting And Greeting
Lesson 4: Having Fun While You Learn
Lesson 5: Staying Cool
Lesson 6: Finding Your Personal Par

Lesson 1: Dreams and Goals
Lesson 2: Positively Setting Goals that are important to you
Lesson 3: Setting Goals that are Specific
Lesson 4: Setting Goals that are Under Your Control
Lesson 5: Getting to you Goal
Lesson 6: Dealing with Challenges

Lesson 1: Stay Well for Life
Lesson 2: Building a GO-TO Team
Lesson 3: Appreciating Diversity
Lesson 4: Dealing with Conflicts
Lesson 5: Be a GO-TO Person
Lesson 6: Planning for the Future

Honesty – The quality or state of being truthful, not deceptive. Golf is unique from other sports in that players regularly call penalties on themselves.

Integrity – The strict adherence to a standard of value or conduct; it is personal honesty and independence. Golf is a game of honesty, etiquette, and composure. You are responsible for your actions and personal conduct on the golf course.

Sportsmanship –Observing the rules of play and winning or losing with grace. You must know and abide by the Rules of Golf and be able to conduct yourself in a respectful manner.

Respect – to feel or show deferential regard for others. In golf, it is important to show respect for yourself, your partners, your opponents, and the golf course, as well as for the honor and traditions of the game.

Confidence – Reliance or trust: it is a feeling of self-assurance. Confidence plays a key role in the level of play that you achieve. You must have confidence in your abilities each time you play golf.

Responsibility – Accounting for one’s actions and being dependable. In golf, you are responsible for yourself and your actions on the golf course. It is up to you to keep score, repair divots, rake bunkers, repair ball marks on the green, and keep up with the pace of play.

Perseverance – to persist in an area, purpose, or task despite obstacles. To succeed in golf, you must learn to persevere through bad breaks and your mistakes.

Courtesy – Considerate behavior towards others. It is a polite remark or gesture. A round of golf should begin and end with a handshake between fellow competitors. Show courtesy toward others by remaining still and quiet while they prepare and execute a shot.

Judgment – the ability to make a decision or form an opinion. It is a decision reached after consideration. Using good Judgement is critical in golf. It comes into play when deciding on strategy, club selection, when to play safe and when to take a chance.

These values, taught through golf & play, are delivered with the goal of helping young people become more productive at school and at home – and more socially conscious citizens in their local communities as they grow.


Registration Terms & Conditions

Please review our Terms & Conditions prior to participant registration.

Refund Policy:

As a non-profit organization, our entire operation is funded by the generosity and donations of both the private and public sectors within our community. Due to administrative and processing costs, it is our policy that we do not offer program refunds. In the event that your child is not able to attend any registered classes, we will transfer your child to another class or provide you with a donation receipt in the amount of your registration fees.


Any golf equipment received for use is the property of First Tee of the Inland Northwest and must be returned at the discretion of the First Tee facility upon the termination of the participant’s involvement in the program. Participants in the Birdie skill level or above will be allowed to check out a complete set of clubs for their use for the whole summer. Students are required to care for these clubs as if they are their own and will return complete set at the end of the season in the same or better condition than they received them. This equipment usage is for those that do not have their own clubs and is free of charge, based on availability.

Media Release:

First Tee of the Inland Northwest, home office and participating agencies will from time to time use film, videotape and/or photographs of its student participants for lawful promotional and/or informational purposes. It is not our chapter’s policy to identify participants in any media print without the express permission of their parent or legal guardian.

Health Information:

In the event that a parent, legal guardian, or emergency contact person cannot be reached in an emergency, the registering agent, parent, or legal guardian agrees to accept any and all determinations of need for medical assistance and/or administration of medical attention deemed necessary by First Tee chapter representatives. Permission is hereby given to the medical personnel selected by First Tee chapter representatives to secure any and all medical, hospitalization, dental, and/or surgical treatment. In the event that such medical attention is needed from a healthcare provider, all costs shall be the responsibility of the parent or guardian.

I, the parent/legal guardian of the registered named youth, give approval for participation in First Tee of the Inland Northwest sponsored activities. I understand that First Tee of the Inland Northwest is an independent organization that benefits from the participation of many golf organizations including First Tee Home Office and its oversight organizations, PGA Tour, PGA of America, USGA, Augusta National Golf Club, and the LPGA. I assume all risks of injury whatsoever and agree to hold harmless First Tee of the Inland Northwest and First Tee Home Office, including its oversight organizations, from claim(s) of any nature arising from any activity, including transportation, connected with First Tee of the Inland Northwest’s facility of program(s). This hold harmless agreement includes, but is not limited to, any claim due to injury proximately resulting from the negligence of First Tee of the Inland Northwest, First Tee Home Office, and its oversight organizations, employees, agents, LPGA or PGA professionals, participating agencies, and volunteers. I consent to First Tee of the Inland Northwest and First Tee Home Office communicating information regarding my child’s participation via the internet.