First Tee of Fresno began in 2008, and since then, has grown into a prominent youth-development organization in the Central Valley promoting life skills, leadership, and confidence through the game of golf. The First Tee of Fresno founder, Michael Firpo, is a golf professional and Fresno local who was a golf instructor/coach who loved his job, but saw a gap in the industry: the game of golf is often only available to those who can afford it. He wanted to close that gap and find a marriage of golf and the community, breaking down barriers to make golf affordable and accessible to anyone and everyone who wanted to play. The First Tee Network was the answer.
Through The First Tee of Fresno, Firpo aims to help children from the ages of 7 to 17 develop skills that will help them for the rest of their lives, whether they continue playing golf or not, and regardless of their societal status. To him, golf is an all-inclusive game, and simply learning to play will naturally instill certain values, including honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship, among others.
“One thing we always say is, ‘instill, not teach,’” says Firpo. “We’re not preaching or forcing these skills on the kids. Through The First Tee of Fresno’s seamless approach to instruction, the life skills and core values become a part of who these kids are on and off the golf course.”
EYE-Q Vision Care has been involved with The First Tee of Fresno since before day one. Dr. Campbell Waldrop from the MedSpa at EYE-Q learned of Firpo’s efforts before they had even held their first clinic, and he was immediately inspired.
Dr. Waldrop credits golf with shaping much of who he is as a person today, and he wanted the children of the Central Valley to have similar experiences. EYE-Q became The First Tee of Fresno’s first official community partner.
“EYE-Q is a huge part of the reason we’ve never turned a single child away,” says Firpo. “Kids who can’t afford to pay our registration fee ask for a scholarship, and if they ask, they always get it. This program is for everyone, and that all started with EYE-Q.”
EYE-Q has continued to contribute to The First Tee of Fresno for the past ten years, allowing hundreds of children to experience the game of golf and the life skills that are at the program’s core. Stay tuned for more Community Into Focus stories highlighting The First Tee of Fresno and its enormously positive impact on our community.