The First Tee and Blanchard Institute partner for Life Skills and Leadership Academy for Youth Golfers and Coaches


Ernie Wright started Pro Kids so students would have the opportunity to learn to lead their own life to success, and have a positive impact on peers and ultimately their community. The staff at Pro Kids believes in students’ ability to take responsibility for their learning, that students be committed to building self-leadership skills, and that they are investing in their futures as a positive force in the world.

In July 2014 participants of The First Tee were selected to attend the Life Skills and Leadership Academy, where they played championship golf, participated in life skills activities and career exploration, experienced dorm living and met a wide variety of young people from around the world. The overall purpose of the Academy is to provide participants with valuable character education and leadership instruction.

As Kathy Wilder (Chief Operating Officer—San Diego Chapters) said in her introduction of Student Self-Leadership to students: 

“Taking the reins of your own life requires a commitment to understanding yourself. Using the Blanchard Institute’s SLII® model you will explore your areas of strength and areas for improvement. The model will give you a practical guide to understanding your level of competence and commitment for every aspect of your life whether it be school or home. I encourage you to talk to your family members, teachers and friends about your work in leadership. Seek support, guidance, and encouragement from those who know you best. This journey can be exciting and challenging. We are all here to support you.”


After introducing the concepts of SLII® to the educators and staff, we shared the connection their mission and program has to the objectives of the Student Self Leadership program. Faculty members at both locations then led students through the program and saw the value to sharing it with a larger audience.

We were then invited to participate in The First Tee’s summer program for student leaders from across the country. We began by introducing the concepts and process of SSL to the life and golf coaches/mentors and returned two days later to facilitate a student-and-coach learning activity on the golf course.

Since then we have created a customized training and workbook for the First Tee—”The Front Nine” modules are currently being implemented and we are looking forward to developing “The Back Nine” with more advanced life skills for students.