Volunteer Corner – Summer 2019

The Houston Golf Association holds the charter for The First Tee of Greater Houston, the largest chapter in The First Tee national network. TFTGH is in 514 elementary schools and 12 outdoor (or “green grass”) facilities across Houston – serving more than 350,000 kids each year. How does the HGA do it?

Although we have dedicated staff, the reach and impact could not be as meaningful without the help of dedicated volunteers. Working with children from all over Houston, HGA volunteers are making a huge difference. One such volunteer is Lee Bellows. Lee, an engineer at HP, has volunteered many of his Saturday mornings at the BlackHorse Location of The First Tee since 2012.

“It’s one of those things where you think, ‘I’ll give it a try and see how it goes,’” Bellows says of getting started. “And I just had no idea how much I’d love it. The kids are great and they are really into it. You get caught up in their enthusiasm.”

Bellows has come to enjoy it so much he’s taken courses to become a certified coach. But, as he points out, it’s not so much about teaching beginners how to swing a club or hit the best shot, it’s about the core values of the game.

“We incorporate the nine core values in everything we do with them,” he said. “We talk about honesty, integrity, respect, and show them exactly what we mean and how it’s an integral part of the game of golf – and great life lessons for them. What were you doing while this guy over here was getting ready to hit the ball? Did you move yours closer? So what’s the fun in that?”

Bellows says what really makes it worthwhile for him is enthusiasm, growth and appreciation the participants express.

“You might think these young kids would rather be at home on an early Saturday morning playing video games,” he said. “It’s great to get them outside and engaged in an activity that involves other children that they might not know.”

“Some of these kids come from challenging backgrounds and environments, so they love some positive attention from adults, teaching them how to play a game many of them never thought they’d want to play. And they appreciate it so much and it shows. As a coach and volunteer, that’s what makes it so rewarding, and why I keep getting up early each Saturday.”

The First Tee offers a wide array of volunteer opportunities, and many don’t involve early Saturday mornings. Thanks to The First Tee’s wide reach in the Houston area, you can find a volunteer opportunity with a convenient time and place. Interested? Email us at youthprograms@hga.org or call us at 281-454-7000. You can see for yourself why volunteers like Lee Bellows continue to dedicate every Saturday morning.