Transition to Age-Based Programming
During the 2022 Fall Session, we’re excited to begin our transition from a level-based program (TARGET, PLAYer, Par, Birdie, Eagle, Ace) to an age-based system, and implement a refreshed and updated First Tee curriculum!
About the transition
First Tee is modernizing and transforming to better meet the needs of kids, teens, and families today. To determine the best way to do this, First Tee Headquarters gathered feedback from network leaders and chapters as well as experts in youth development and technology.
Through this research and listening, the need to move to age-based programs became clear. With this switch, we are adjusting to match the way nearly all other youth sports and programs are arranged. More importantly, we will meet the preference of kids and their parents to keep participants in groups of similar age.
What this means for participants
When registering for classes, families will be able to register their participant(s) based on their age.
When you visit our registration website, you notice classes will now be listed by age groups, with the skill-level name designations (“PLAYer 1 (7-8 years old)” or “Par (Ages 9+ and certified)”) no longer being used; instead, they would be displayed as “7-9 years old class” or “10-11 years old class”, for example.
Moving between levels
Participants will move to the next age group once they become age-eligible for that group. For example, a 9-year-old participant will be able to register for the 10-11 year old group class once they have turned 10 years old. Participants must be the proper age PRIOR to the start of a session.
Our primary objective will be to ensure consistency across the different levels by having participants be with friends their own age, and experiencing the updated lessons for their age level.
Tracking participant progress
First Tee Headquarters is currently in the development phase for a digital badging system to keep track of participant progression. While this system is developed, we will continue to track skill progression internally.
Participants will be able to complete skills checkpoints throughout each season on their own. We will keep track of participant progression for golf and life skills, and recognize participants as they achieve different skill levels.
We are currently working on information for parents to track their participant’s progression. Stay tuned for updates!
Will I need a new registration account?
No, you will be able to continue using your current email/password. There are no steps you need to take with this change. However, please note that our registration website is getting a makeover! More information on this can be found here.
If a participant ages up during the session:
The age a child is on the first day of any session will dictate what class they sign-up for. If a child has a birthday in the middle of a session that moves them up to the next age group, they will remain in the current class until the next session. For example, a child turning 10 in the middle of a session will remain in the 7-9 year old class until the end of the session. Exceptions may be considered in rare circumstances. Additionally, the Registration Portal will only allow you to register for the correct class.
What will happen to the current levels (TARGET, PLAYer, Par, Birdie, Eagle, Ace)?
The current levels will be phased out and we will no longer use level designations to refer to classes, instead we will be using the age-based designation. While the skill-level designations (PLAYer, Par, Birdie, Eagle) will be phased out, a participant’s progress will be saved and recognized. In other words, we will keep a record of participants with the last level they attended and the skills they have completed.
Once the new badging system is implemented (more on that below), we will record the progress a participant has made thus far.
How will we address the different skill levels in this new system?
In order to welcome experienced and newer players to the same age groups, we will be transitioning to the updated curriculum developed by First Tee. This new curriculum has been developed keeping in mind the individual needs of participants in each age group, and include topics that are appropriate for their cognitive levels.
Moreover, we are providing additional training to our coaches to help them effectively coach different skill levels in the same class. Additionally, we will be encouraging participants to exchange feedback with their coaches during class to help ensure a player’s needs are met by providing additional, more tailored instruction to their golf skill during class, and/or adjusting the difficulty or objective of the golf skills being practiced in class.
When keeping track of their progression, participants will need to submit information to our chapter office so we can keep track of it and apply it to the badging system once it’s fully implemented. For example, if a skill test involves playing on the golf course and reaching a certain score, participants should submit a scorecard demonstrating the score. Upon receipt of the scorecard, the participant’s profile will be updated internally to keep track of their progress.
Additionally, as participants achieve different skill levels, they will become eligible to participate in local events and receive invitations to other participant opportunities.
What are the Local Events & Other Participant Opportunities?
Throughout the year, our chapter hosts various play days, tournaments, and other fun activities for participants.
Similarly, teenage participants with demonstrated experience and participation in First Tee Programming become eligible to apply for national opportunities through First Tee at the National Level.
You can learn more about these opportunities below and through our National Opportunities Meeting on Tuesday, August 24th from 4:30-5:30 PM with more details to come.
We are excited about this update, if you have any questions, please reach out!