USC Aiken Joins Forces with The First Tee of Aiken to Empower Youth, College Students

August 23, 2016

The University of South Carolina Aiken announced Monday, Aug. 22, that it has partnered with The First Tee of Aiken to launch a fund raising campaign to build a nine-hole golf practice facility for the university’s golf program and to serve as a permanent home for The First Tee of Aiken. 

“This partnership is about more than a game,” said Chancellor Sandra Jordan.  “It’s an investment in the future of Aiken; South Carolina; the region; area youth; and young adults.

“This unique collaboration will help primary, secondary and college-age students achieve their educational goals.  Both organizations share core values and the goal of preparing students to become respectful, responsible, and accountable citizens who make significant contributions to their communities.”

Jordan explained that area golf courses have allowed USC Aiken’s nationally recognized golf team – and the First Tee of Aiken – to use their facilities. 

“Our high performing golf team deserves our support.  This past year, the USCA golf team had a great year on and off the greens.”

She said the need for a designated practice space has become imperative as the demands on local courses have increased.  The team’s long-time coach agreed.

“We do not have a problem finding some place to tee up to play 18 holes after class,” said USC Aiken Men’s Golf Coach Mike Carlisle, who has led the team to national titles in his 27 years on campus.

“We spend only about 25 percent of our practice time actually playing on the course.  We spend about 75 percent of our time hitting balls on the range, using short game areas, chipping, pitching and putting greens.”

The proposed, 60-acre, nine-hole practice facility will be located near the University of South Carolina Aiken Roberto Hernandez Baseball Field. 

University officials – and former members of the golf team -- believe a practice facility will offer myriad benefits, will provide a convenient resource for the team, and may lead to a women’s golf team. 

 “My college golf team will have a complete practice facility that will not only help to improve the golfers’ performance but will also serve as a powerful recruiting tool,” said More Than a Game Honorary Co-Chair Scott Brown.

 In addition to Brown, fellow PGA golf professional Kevin Kisner has agreed to serve as an honorary co-chair for the facility's capital campaign.

 Bill and Sandy Tucker, who claim “the rewards will be far greater than if each organization attempted this alone,” and Dr. John and Paige Tiffany have agreed to guide the capital campaign efforts aimed at building the practice facility.  

 “The university has had a major impact on the quality of life in Aiken,” said Dr. Tiffany, a local pediatrician. 

 “The More Than a Game campaign is another example of the creative thinking that leads the university to meet its needs while also serving those of our great community,” the USC Aiken alumnus added.

 The First Tee of Aiken facilitates youth development by providing educational programs that build character, teach core values, and promote healthy decisions using the game of golf as a means to make the lifestyle instruction fun.

 “The configuration and design of the new facility will allow us to impact even more young people in Aiken County in all of our avenues of delivery, which include after-school and Saturday certification programming, the National School Program and various outreach programs,” said Tony Allman, chairman of the board for The First Tee of Aiken.

“I’m excited for all those involved because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

By locating the practice facility on the USC Aiken campus, The First Tee of Aiken participants will be exposed to the university environment and its students. 

“The First Tee of Aiken partnering with the university offers a great location to operate the programs and introduce these young people to a college environment,” said Kisner.  “That’s a valuable opportunity for a young person who might not ever picture college in his or her future.

“I see this partnership as nothing but a win-win for the young people of Aiken, for our greater community and for the university.  I fully support it and look forward to seeing the finished facility.”

USC Aiken, a comprehensive university in the University of South Carolina system, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees to more than 3,500 students in 50 programs of study. USC Aiken is ranked the #1 public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide "America’s Best Colleges." The 2017 distinction marks USC Aiken’s 19th consecutive ranking among the top three in this category and its 12th time in first place.