First Tee – Tennessee is an initiative of the World Golf Foundation. Since its inception in 1997, First Tee has opened over 148 golf learning facilities and has introduced the game of golf to over 300,000 participants since 2000. The focus is to give young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop, through golf and character education, life-enhancing values such as honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship.
First Tee – Tennessee was created in April 2018. First Tee of Tri-Cities and The First Tee of Middle Tennessee were combined under one name. Additionally, our service area has been expanded to all counties in Tennessee, including Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville and their surrounding counties.
An initiative of the Tennessee Golf Foundation (TGF), the original chapter was The First Tee of Nashville, which operated at The VinnyLinks at Shelby Park in East Nashville. The chapter is a private/public partnership between the TGF and Nashville’s Metro Parks. Originally conceived a few days after First Tee’s historic Central Park press conference in 1997, an underutilized East Nashville course in Shelby Park was donated by Metro Parks, to the TGF, who made $1.5 million of improvements over a two-year period. The nine-hole course, driving range, putting green, short game area, and 7,500 square foot Learning Center create a beautiful setting for those who play the game at The VinnyLinks. After the improvements, the course was turned back over to Metro Parks, who operates the facility, while the TGF operates and funds The First Tee and the other junior programs held there.
Two major improvement projects were implemented in 2012. The first saw the replacement of the driving range nets in the spring of 2012. The increase from 25 feet to 50 feet allowed participants to practice their longer clubs, especially their driver. The second was the rebuild and expansion of the practice green. The increase in size from 4500-sf to over 9000-sf will allow the increase of class size. Additionally, the installation of a bunker along the full width of the green would allow more youth to practice their bunker shots. Previously, only 2-3 people could be in the bunker. With the new bunker, 9-12 youth could practice during classes.
In 2016, the operation of VinyLinks was turned over to First Tee – Tennessee, which continues to operate the facility.