On a recent late afternoon, near the putting green of The Wigwam Resort, there was a buzz of excitement as about 20 young golfers gathered for their weekly lesson.

But the lessons learned during The First Tee of Phoenix program go well beyond how well the kids can drive, chip and putt.

"We work with kids between the ages of 7 and 17, and we teach them life skills," Kevin Terry, executive director of The First Tee of Phoenix said.

The First Tee of Phoenix program reaches about 140,000 children in schools, after-school programs and 15 area golf courses.

Thunderbirds Charities' annual donation to Phoenix-area beneficiaries includes this group of young golfers. This year, the Thunderbirds raised more than $12.2 million.

Certified coaches and teachers from The First Tee not only provide top-flight instruction on the basics of the game, but frame each day on the golf course with a valuable life-lesson based on Nine Core Values: Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Respect, Confidence, Responsibility, Perseverance, Courtesy and Judgment.

"When kids aren't hitting balls, they're getting quizzed on the core values that we have, and how they can use them in golf and how they can use them in every day life," Terry said.

If you're interested in signing up your child for The First Tee, contact The First Tee of Phoenix.

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