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First Tee Fall Season

Fall Season features 15 classes at 6 locations. The season begins in late August / early September.

Register For Fall

Sam Barbour: Ace Certified!

First Tee of Tri-Cities would like to congratulate Sam Barbour for becoming the third Ace Certified student in our history. This is an extraordinary accomplishment that less than 1% of students across the country complete.

The First Tee's Ace program brings together all of the concepts we teach into the final level, designed to test your knowledge, skills, and desire to reach new heights as a golfer and as a person.

Sam began his First Tee journey at the age of 8 years old in 2013. Through the years he certified PLAYer, Par, Birdie, and Eagle levels before making the decision to complete Ace.

He had a very successful high school golf career, maintained good grades, mentored younger participants, and worked in the golf industry. Now, Sam will set his sights on college, attending University of Tennessee university with a full scholarship.

His completion of Ace allows him to receive even more scholarship benefits with The First Tee of Tennessee's Ace Scholarship Award. These funds are set aside for remarkable students like Sam. We could not be more proud of his success!

Read more about his journey below:

My name is Samuel Barbour and as of this week, I am Ace Certified from the First Tee program. I have recently graduated from Dobyns Bennett High School, and in the Fall, I will be majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee. I am among 14 other students at the University of Tennessee that will be a Haslam Leadership Scholar for the class of 2027. The Haslam Leadership Scholarship is given to 15 students and includes benefits such as paid internships, education abroad experiences, and tuition and fees covered. I am very honored to be a part of this program, but I would attribute a considerable amount of my distinction as a Haslam Scholar to the First Tee, and specifically, the First Tee Ace level.


I began my First Tee journey when I was 8 years old. In the PLAYer, Par, Birdie, and Eagle levels I learned a lot about the rules of golf, golf etiquette, and life skills on and off the course. This shaped my experience as I traveled through middle school and later high school golf at Dobyns Bennett. I felt more comfortable on the golf course as I met competitors from other schools, and I was able to help with ruling disputes that came up quite often in high school golf. While staying at a competitive level was important for me in high school, keeping a fun and positive environment was more important. Being a part of the First Tee allowed me to step up as a leader in situations that prompted leadership. For example, once I became a Senior in high school, several golf teammates I looked up to graduated from high school. This left me as the only senior on the golf team. Stepping up as a leader by welcoming the incoming freshmen and creating a good atmosphere at practices was something I tried my hardest to do.

When I graduated to the Ace level, my focus in high school was already changing to thinking about college and my career going forward. It was very meaningful to talk with other golfers about their plans and how they tried to incorporate First Tee life skills to make decisions about their future. It is not very common that students in high school take the time to reflect on their future. The First Tee allowed me to slow down and think about important decisions that I had not considered, such as what college makes the most sense for your needs. The Ace level brought in a new, practical perspective on golf, and while we still found time to practice golf and have a good time, opening our minds to new thoughts and project ideas at our Ace classes became equally important.

In my senior year of high school, Coach Adam and I put one of these project ideas into place. Adam has been my First Tee instructor ever since I can remember and urged me to continue in the First Tee program. He has always cared so much for his First Tee students. And in my senior year, we brought the First Tee to Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School with the help of the YMCA and Dobyns Bennett Beta Club. It was remarkable to see so many excited kids get to try out golf for the first time. The First Tee can really make an impact on younger kids' lives, and I hope that we offered that chance to many kids at Roosevelt. 

Now that I have officially become Ace certified, I can confidently say that the First Tee program has made an extremely positive impact on me. I can bet that colleges look at graduates of the First Tee program very highly, and it helped with my application. However, Ace certification is not just something to put on a resume, it is an opportunity and a turning point to learn more about oneself and their plans for the future. I cannot wait to start college this Fall, but I want to make sure to thank Coach Adam and all the First Tee instructors for making this experience possible for myself and many others. 

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I can be Responsible: Respecting The Rules

A responsibility is something you are expected to do or even a way that you are expected to act. Whether you are on or off the golf course, demonstrating responsibility and respect for rules is a way of Using Good Judgment. If you want to be a successful golfer, you must demonstrate that:

  • You can have responsibilities. 
  • You can act responsibly. 
  • You can take responsibility for your actions. 

Responsibility is a choice. Acting responsibly is a commitment. Choosing to play the game of golf includes accepting the responsibility to respect the rules and keep the golf course and its surroundings in better shape than you found them, and to keep up with the pace of play.

Some examples of showing Responsibility on the course are:

  • Replacing or filling in your divots with sand.
  • Raking the bunker when you leave.
  • Fixing your own ball mark plus one more on the green.

Grip it Before you Rip it

There are many different ways to hold the golf club. Some prefer a baseball-style grip while others overlap or interlock the pinky and index finger. However you choose to hold the club, controlling the face is one of the most important goals.

You can influence the club face direction at impact by the placement of your hands on the grip.

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A neutral grip will have both thumbs down the middle. If you're right-handed and find yourself hitting the ball to the right, or slicing, you can rotate your hands away from the target before you swing.

Because your hands tend to return to a "thumbs up" position at impact, this grip may cause the club face to close for you.

However, be mindful that is often a band-aid fix. The real issue is that your hands are not rotating enough on their own through your swing. This is a common issue for most golfers.

Try different placements on the range to see what works best for you.