First Tee Greater Baltimore helping students succeed on and of the course

BALTIMORE (WBFF) — First Tee Greater Baltimore is empowering the city’s youth both on the golf course and in the classroom.

In Baltimore City you’ll find some golfers with the best drive are not even old enough to drive.

“First Tee of Greater Baltimore teaches kids nine core values and nine life skills through the game of golf,” said John Shmerler, Board Chairman for First Tee Greater Baltimore.

Shmerler and others with the program make sure the kids are teed up for success both on the course and in the classroom.

But Baltimore’s chapter is built differently.

“One of a handful that really operates and focuses on underserved kids in an inner city atmosphere,” said Shmerler.

“Access is always hard. Golf has traditionally been and continues to be more of a suburban sport and expensive,” said Shmerler.

But with courses nestled right in the city, a new van, volunteers and a dedicated group of staff and coaches the program is able to give the kids an opportunity to swing and succeed.

“I’ve seen this golf course change, I fell in love with it,” said Varada Maulkhan. “It’s one of my home courses.”

Maulkhan is a 2021 Evans Scholarship winner and plans to attend the University of Maryland in the fall.

She was introduced to the game of gold through First Tee Greater Baltimore.

The organization is changing the lives of young golfers long after they walk off the course.

“When kids stay in our First Tee program for more than three years we have a 100 percent graduation rate from high school, which, from neighborhoods that we’re serving is generally some of the underserved and inner city neighborhoods,” said Shmerler. “That’s much much higher than what they’re averaging now.”

While there are rules to the game of golf, John reminds the kids it’s not as exclusive as one may think.

“It’s a one person team, if you want to do it, you can do it, said Shmerler. “It can be as lonely or as social as you want to make it.”

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