For the fifth consecutive year, first-time (or fast-growing) participants in the Oneida Indian Nation’s First Tee program were awarded custom-fitted golf clubs for completing the program over the summer. Turning Stone’s Director of Golf and Recreation Miles Blundell and Assistant Golf Professional Ryan McGinnis, along with Peter Webber, the executive director of The First Tee of Syracuse, were on hand earlier this month to present the clubs to 17 kids at the Oneida Nation Rec Center.

The Nation’s First Tee program takes place over the summer during the youth Summer Jam, which is a 6-week long, 5-day a week program for Oneidas, Children of Enrolled Oneidas and Health Services clients to participate in cultural, educational and physical activities.

Miles says the First Tee program is a great way for young kids to get involved in the game of golf.

“First Tee guarantees kids practice for two hours, twice a week,” he said. “The progress they’ve shown from year one is incredible and we hope they continue to play and practice as they get older.”

All participants are awarded vouchers to play at Pleasant Knolls, Sandstone Hollow and practice using the simulator in the Golf Dome to incentivize continued practice during the program’s offseason. If the kids complete their voucher, they can turn it in for a free round at Shenendoah with a Turning Stone golf pro.

The First Tee is available in all 50 states and aims to grow the game of golf by transforming the game experience for kids and their families. Peter says his organization reaches over 900 kids in the central New York area.

“Kids come from all over,” he said. “We work with as many school districts as we can including Syracuse, East Syracuse-Minoa, Christian Brothers Academy and many others. It’s great to see the Oneida Nation reach 30 kids every year.”

For more information about other youth programs offered by the Oneida Nation, please visit www.oneidaindiannation.com or call Donna Howe, youth programs coordinator, at 315-829-8484.