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New program sets tee time at Liberty Ridge Elementary

Liberty Ridge Elementary will begin offering golf curriculum through the Woodbury First Tee program. (Submitted photo)

With snow on the ground and lingering sub-zero temperatures, golf is probably one of the last things on anyone’s mind – except at Liberty Ridge Elementary.

Just last month, the school received new golf equipment for use in the implementation of a new golf curriculum there.

Golf is being taught at Liberty Ridge thanks to a partnership with the Woodbury First Tee program.

“It’s a great opportunity to introduce students to golf,” physical education teacher Ron Christopherson said. “I’m hoping the kids get really excited about golf.”

First Tee

First Tee, which is offered through Eagle Valley Golf Course, is a national program that teaches the game of golf to children through specialized equipment.

The equipment includes large Velcro markers, tennis-ball sized Velcro golf balls and different types of children-friendly golf clubs.

“It’s a little bit different than regular golf,” Christopherson said. “There’s more room for error.”

In addition to learning golf skills, students are always exposed to First Tee’s “Nine Core Values” and “Nine Healthy Habits.”

“It’s not just going out and teaching them golf. It’s giving them something that will go beyond the classroom,” Christopherson said.

The Nine Core Values are: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

“When you can instill those core values, especially in a gym setting, it just transfers from the gym to the classroom,” Christopherson said. “They’re lifelong skills.”

The Nine Healthy Habits are in the areas of physical, emotional and social and include: play, energy, safety, vision, mind, family, friends, school and community.

The idea, according to the First Tee program, is to reach children at a young age, so by the time they’re teenagers, they can carry themselves with a level of respect and poise that transcends what happens on the golf course.

“It will allow students to be exposed to lifelong activities,” Christopherson said. “It’s fun to watch the game grow.”

Getting ready for golf

Christopherson said he was approached by Eagle Valley Golf Course, which recently started offering First Tee, last year about the possibility of incorporating the program into Liberty Ridge’s curriculum.

“Of course we jumped on it,” he said. “Being a golfer myself, my eyes just lit up.”

In addition to having a golf unit, Christopherson said Liberty Ridge is hoping to incorporate golf into its regular activity station rotations.

“Students can get their energy out in other activities,” he said, “and then they can work on their putting.”

Given that the equipment is versatile enough to be used indoors or outdoors, Christopherson said Liberty Ridge is hoping to start incorporating the First Tee curriculum this April or May.

The golf curriculum is going to be primarily reserved for first through fifth grade.

Christopherson said he is eager to start teaching golf and seeing the fun students will have with the sport.

“I think they’ll love hitting the ball,” he said. “I think that will be the biggest thrill for them.”

First Tee of Woodbury will be hosting its Swing into Spring gala April 5 at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center. Visit for more information.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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