First-year participants of the Oneida Indian Nation’s First Tee program were recently rewarded with custom-fit golf clubs. Oneida Indian Nation Representative and Turning Stone Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter, Turning Stone’s Director of Golf Operations Miles Blundell, and several representatives of The First Tee of Syracuse, including Executive Director Peter Webber, presented 14 kids with brand new clubs at the Oneida Indian Nation Rec Center.

The Nation’s First Tee program completed its fourth season this summer and continues to grow in popularity among the Nation’s youth.

“The number of Members playing increases each year,” said Blundell. “First Tee is a great program that introduces the kids to the game with two hour practice sessions twice a week over a six-week period.” The Recreation Department also schedules practice sessions during the kids’ winter and spring breaks so they can continue to work on their skills.

Practice is essential in the game of golf and giving kids access to properly fitted clubs encourages them to play more. First Tee works not only to improve their skillset, but to instill them with several core values including honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect and perseverance.

“If you keep practicing, you never know, you could be like Jordan Spieth or Notah Begay,” Halbritter said to the youth before the ceremony. “And the Nation has five top-rated courses that you can practice on to improve your game.”

Returning participants were also rewarded with vouchers for four rounds of golf at Pleasant Knolls, and when completed, can be turned in for a complimentary round at Shenendoah.