First Green – Making A Good First Impression

By Larry Gilhuly, director, Northwest Region
August 6, 2013

Outreach – the word is one that is used often in golf circles as the game struggles with attracting and retaining players. Is there a simple and effective way for an individual golf course to reach out into the local community to demonstrate the positive environmental aspects of a golf course? The answer is yes, and in Washington, Oregon and Northern California it is called First Green. 

The First Green was started more than a decade ago in Washington State as a way of showing “links as labs” to high school age students as part of their science studies. Hosted at both private and public golf courses, this unique program has had great success with several thousand students visiting golf courses from elementary to high school age. Having participated in several of these on-course educational opportunities, I was struck recently by just how diverse this program has become. 

A recent First Green meeting was held at one of the top clubs in the Seattle area. The inner city 6th grade attendees had the opportunity to learn about beaver and lake ecosystems, see bald eagles nesting, and look at grass and sand particles with a high powered microscope.  These students were introduced to the many aspects of a golf course.  The most striking part of this two-hour field trip was watching the children who had never been on a golf course become truly interested in the many programs it takes to create a quality putting green. A short and fun quiz was followed by a trip to the maintenance facility where small prizes were given to all in attendance. Finally, the follow-up response by the teachers was nothing but positive as has been noted at every one of these educational opportunities. 

The First Green started as a small program to introduce the positive environmental aspects about golf courses. The program is expanding its education programs with the assistance of a grant to focus on STEM education principles from a partnership between the USGA and Chevron. 

Just as the first green on every golf course provides the first impression for that golf course, the First Green provides the same impression about the game for future generations. For more information on this program contact thefirstgreen@gmail.com

Source: Larry Gilhuly (lgilhuly@usga.org

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