• Lingerfeldt Elementary students learn what it is like to be a golfer

    Watch out, Harold Varner.  The next professional golfers from Gaston County Schools could be in the making at Lingerfeldt Elementary.

    Through the First Tee program, students learn about the sport of golf.  In addition to learning how to play, the program focuses on life skills and helps children build their strength of character through golf.  Lingerfeldt is the only elementary school integrating the program into its physical education classes.  

    Teacher Taylon Singleton brought First Tee to the school after seeing its benefits in another school district.  He said, “Students are learning more than just the game of golf.  The First Tee program teaches children character traits such as honesty and sportsmanship.”

    Currently, the program is being introduced to fifth grade students, but Singleton said the program will be available to all students.

    “I want the older students to grasp more than the ability to understand and enjoy the game of golf,” said Singleton. “The curriculum reinforces life skills such as positive attitude and problem-solving and applies these values to golf.”

    By introducing the game of golf with the First Tee core values, the program provides the opportunity for children to see how honesty, judgment, and responsibility in physical education class relates to other areas of their lives.

    Singleton added, “Teaching elementary students these values is an important part of their education and will help mold their character for now and later in life.”

    Student Cameron Mack is having fun learning the basics of golf.  “I only knew of putt-putt,” smiled Mack. “Coach Singleton is teaching us other parts of the game, such as chipping and striking the ball.”

    For Singleton, the program gives children exposure to a game that they may not learn otherwise, especially when youngsters often think of football, basketball, and baseball as the top sports.  He realizes that developing the next professional athlete for any sport starts when children are young, and he is grateful for his students to have this opportunity.

    “I would be very happy if one of my students went on to play golf in middle school and high school and then excelled in the sport as a lifetime activity,” he said. 

    Principal Page Willis is grateful for the program.  She said, “We are really excited to offer our students an array of opportunities through our elective options.  Golf is a lifelong sport that teaches students about persistence, accuracy, and social skills.  Coach Singleton is creating an outstanding physical education program that offers learning experiences for students so they can explore many possible options that could be in their future.”

    Since 2004, the First Tee school program has provided educators with training, equipment, and lesson plans that integrate life skills, motor skills, and values with the game of golf.  Through a $2,750 grant, educators are provided lifetime access to curriculum and professional development training.  The program also includes a hard-bound curriculum manual and developmentally appropriate golf equipment. 

    Willis says it would be awesome for the program to pique a student’s interest in golf and have a student go on to find success as a professional golfer like Varner.  A 2008 graduate of Forestview High School, Varner played golf at East Carolina University and was named the Conference USA Player of the Year.  His success has led him to the PGA Tour where he has played in a number of tournaments and won professional championships in Australia and Saudi Arabia.

VIDEOS: First Tee program