USGA Hosts Participants of First Tee Summer Program

By Jonathan Wilhelm, USGA
July 28, 2014

The USGA's Jim Hubbell gives participants of The First Tee of Metropolitan New York's "Katie's Academy" a tour of the association's Research and Test Center. (USGA/Jonathan Wilhelm)

FAR HILLS, N.J. – Start the day with an early morning cardio routine, followed by short-game drills, lunch and an educational curriculum – capped with a quick 18 holes of golf. Not a typical lazy summer day for a kid, right? It is, however, an ideal summer for a handful of juniors with the First Tee of Metropolitan New York.

This summer, junior golfers who are looking to further develop their game and understanding of golf’s guiding principles are participating in a First Tee Metropolitan program called “Katie’s Academy.” Led by instructor and The First Tee Metropolitan’s manager of special projects and outcomes Katie Brenny, the program is aimed at The First Tee participants who have reached Birdie or Eagle – ranging from ages 10-17 – in the hierarchy of juniors.

“This [eight-week] program is the first time a lot of these kids have been really pushed,” said Brenny, affectionately known as ‘Coach Katie’ by the juniors. “It is designed for kids who want to take their game to the next level, but to also give [the juniors] a better understanding of the game.”

To do so, Brenny and the First Tee of Metropolitan New York have created a two-headed approach. It keeps kids active with early workouts, then mixes in life, career and other goal-setting lessons throughout the day to reinforce the nine core values of The First Tee: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

“This is really about helping us appreciate the game,” said 16-year-old Nadeem Ali, an eight-year First Tee participant. “I’m at the Eagle level, and it helps me to be a better peer to the younger kids because I’m seeing how relatable the goal-setting and character-building content is to real life.”

One of the program’s activities includes a weekly visit to the USGA Golf House and Museum in Far Hills. Kids get a first-hand look at the history of golf with a museum tour, with subsequent visits focused on teaching lessons of character and integrity, illustrated by choices made by iconic golfers over the years.

“The USGA Museum spreads history and builds awareness by engaging junior golfers from local First Tee Chapters, including: Metropolitan New York, Essex County, Plainfield, Raritan Valley as well as Newark Girls Golf,” said Kim Gianetti , USGA Museum’s manager of marketing and outreach. “Our programs seek to support and reinforce the nine core values taught by The First Tee, using the stories related to the lives and careers of USGA champions throughout history.”

Keeping with the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-natured curriculum of the program, the kids also tour the USGA Research and Test Center. Here, they learn how to measure the volume of driver heads, how the USGA tests golf balls for conformance and what goes into USGA testing certification.

And while it’s a different approach to a golf-themed summer, Brenny and her pupils are excited about the future of the academy. During the group’s visit on Wednesday, July 9, the kids were all smiles and full of questions during both tours, and it’s evident that golf is already much more than just a game to these eager juniors.

Jonathan Wilhelm is the USGA’s social media specialist. Email him at

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image