Jordyn Freeman stood and slightly swayed back and forth as she adjusted her feet to the proper position.
With a golf club in hand, the 8-year-old looked down at the golf ball then to the side to see where she wanted it to go. After a few more seconds, she took a swing, and as she watched the ball, a smile grew on her face.
She had successfully accomplished the exercise.
Jordyn is one of the participants in the First Tee of Aiken’s PLAYer program at Mount Vintage Golf Club for children ages 8 to 12.
The organization began offering the program earlier this month. It is the first time the golf club has played host to a First Tee program, said First Tee of Aiken’s executive director, Elizabeth Smith.
“Our goal is to reach every child in Aiken County with life skills and character development and allow them to enjoy the fun part of golf as well,” she said. “It’s about providing them with opportunities and exposure to golf as they grow into adulthood. It impacts them positively at school and at home.”
Program participants meet at Mount Vintage’s Athletic and Town Center each Tuesday for a little more than an hour.
Each session begins with a discussion about one of the First Tee’s nine core values, which are confidence, judgment, respect, courtesy, honesty, integrity, responsibility, perseverance and sportsmanship.
“Golf is unlike any other sport because you call penalties on yourself,” said the program’s coach, Buddy Satcher. “It teaches honesty and integrity. It also requires players to use good judgment.”
Participants also learn about golf etiquette and vocabulary that will help them on the golf course.
Following the discussion, they go onto the course and practice different golf exercises in stations set up by volunteers.
Jordyn enjoys being out on the course. She got into golf because her father and older sister play, she said.
“I like being outdoors,” she said. “The way I feel when I’m out here is really great.”
Participating in the program is also a constructive use of time.
“It’s a great experience,” she said. “Instead of just watching TV, you can get active and have fun.”
Although the program is new to Mount Vintage, it already has several volunteers who help.
“I love the game of golf and participating in their learning experience,” said Patty Godfrey. “They really do learn the values of life. It’s a wonderful program.”
Fellow volunteer Keith Muehfeld shared similar thoughts.
“The life skills are just as important as golf,” he said. “It’s really neat watching the kids learn.”
The program’s current session continues through March 19 and children may still sign up to participate. For more information about the First Tee of Aiken and it’s programs, visit www.firstteeaiken.org .