ABC 7976 The PGA of America and Georgetown College Partner to Benefit Graduating Scholars of the First TeePresident Bill Crouch proudly posed with his first two graduates of The First Tee Scholars program – Chris Hawkins, left, and Steven Outlaw – after Georgetown College’s commencement. On hand to co-present their diplomas was retired PGA director Jim Awtrey, an original board member of The First Tee and now a Georgetown College Trustee Fellow. Both graduates will take the PGA’s Player Ability Test this summer – and if they qualify, will begin the Accelerated PGM School on scholarship in late October. (Photo by Paul Atkinson).

The PGA of America and Georgetown (Ky.) College have announced a partnership to enable graduating students in the school’s The First Tee Scholars program to earn a scholarship into the PGA Professional Golf Management (PGA PGM) Accelerated Program, in order to take the first step toward obtaining PGA membership.

Through The First Tee Scholars Program, graduates who pass The PGA’s Playing Ability Test can enroll in the seven-week PGA Professional Golf Management Accelerated Program, at the PGA Education Center, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Upon completion, students will have passed the first of three checkpoints toward PGA membership. The PGA Accelerated Program teaches eight Level 1 courses, while integrating work experience activities at golf facilities and through classroom training sessions. The seven-week pace is greatly accelerated from the traditional two-year window used for passing Level 1, with more than 120 classroom hours, 70 hours of work experience activities and four days of comprehensive checkpoint testing in the PGA Accelerated Program.

“At the forefront of The PGA of America’s mission is to grow the game of golf, while providing opportunities for qualified individuals to pursue their dreams of obtaining PGA membership,” said Joe Steranka, chief executive officer of The PGA of America. “The PGA’s partnership with Georgetown College enables top graduating Scholars to draw upon their strong leadership abilities and life skills, which are hallmarks of The First Tee program, to pursue careers as PGA Professionals. We are delighted to expand upon an outstanding partnership that began when Georgetown College proposed the development of The First Tee Scholars program on the collegiate level, in order to increase diversity at the school.”

The First Tee Scholars Program provides participants a gateway to a successful future through higher education.

The Scholars Program began in 2001, through the generosity of Dr. William H. Crouch Jr., president of Georgetown College, who offered to provide two full scholarships to participants in The First Tee. Since then, the Scholars program has carried out one of The First Tee’s most important initiatives – to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing skills through golf.

“As one of the Founding Partners of The First Tee, The PGA of America continues to demonstrate its commitment to our positive youth development programs,” said Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., executive director of The First Tee. “Extending this opportunity for Scholars to become PGA Professionals on an accelerated basis is yet another great example of their involvement. It’s fitting that Georgetown College, which founded The First Tee Scholars program, is the first college to partner with The PGA of America for this purpose.”

“Since becoming president in 1991, I have envisioned a truly diverse campus environment where all students can learn, thrive and prepare for the global workplace,” said Dr. Crouch. “In recent years, we have focused on achieving diversity through higher education. Establishing The First Tee Scholars program was one of the main pieces for making this vision fall into place. We are proud of our association with The PGA of America, which stands at the forefront of growing the game of golf through its commitment to diversity.”

The PGA of America and the school will also work together throughout the next five years to enable minority students in The First Tee’s national programs to receive fully-funded college scholarships to Georgetown College – which will pave the way for more students to start on the path to becoming PGA Professionals.

About The First Tee

The First Tee (www.thefirsttee.org) is an initiative of the World Golf Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in St. Augustine, Fla., at World Golf Village, home of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Its mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf. Since its inception in 1997, The First Tee has introduced the game of golf and its values to more than 1.5 million participants and students in 47 states and five countries – Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Singapore. Former President George Bush serves as honorary chairman.

About Georgetown College

Georgetown College is a residential, co-educational, liberal arts college defined by academic excellence. We offer numerous opportunities for the development of leadership skills in an environment that encourages intellectual, spiritual, cultural, social, emotional and physical growth. We teach students to think, to lead, and to serve with balance and respect as demonstrated and modeled by Christian character. The campus is located 15 miles north of Lexington and to the west of Interstate 75 – and four miles from the Kentucky Horse Park, our academic partner and host site for the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games.

About The PGA of America

The PGA of America is the world’s largest working sports organization, comprised of 28,000 men and women golf Professionals who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf, while serving millions of people throughout its 41 PGA Sections nationwide. Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has enhanced its leadership position in a $62 billion-a-year industry, by growing the game of golf through its premier spectator events, world-class education and training programs, significant philanthropic outreach initiatives and award-winning golf promotions. Today’s PGA Professional is the public’s link to the game, serving an essential role in the operation of golf facilities throughout the country.