First Tee Awards Ace Certification to Naples Teen

Less than 1 percent of First Tee participants earn the national designation that recognizes teens for their commitment to personal growth and planning for their future

Naples, Florida (March 11th) – Jack McElrath from First Tee —Naples/Collier has achieved Ace certification, the highest level of certification from First Tee. This certification is the culmination of 10 years in the program that enables youth to build the strength of character that empowers them through a lifetime of new challenges and personal growth.

Jack McElrath

McElrath began Ace program in 2019 after completing four previous program levels. The program’s final level emphasizes personal planning and reinforces skills such as self-management, goal setting, self-coaching, interpersonal communication, and resilience that were applied in earlier levels of the program. Using these skills, McElrath earned the Ace certification by completing four projects focused on community service, career exploration, educational opportunities and golf experience. Completing these projects help him build an important foundation for success in higher education and career planning. Once the projects were completed, a final report was submitted and reviewed by a national committee. This designation is the culmination of hours of volunteering, goal setting, preparation and practice.

“For an individual to achieve First Tee’s Ace certification is no small task.  Jack joins a small group of First Tee participants, worldwide, that have demonstrated the dedication to the First Tee Life Skills programming as well as the determination to complete the four projects.  Less than 1 percent of First Tee participants achieve Ace certification and Jack has joined this elite group.  He has been part of the First Tee – Naples/Collier for over ten years and has involved in our Life Skills Programs, Elementary School Golf Leagues, Middle School Golf Leagues and our Junior Assistant Coach Program.  We are extremely proud of his hard work and dedication to the First Tee.  Congratulations on this great honor!” said Derek Clemmensen, Director of Programs, First Tee – Naples/Collier.

McElrath has been a participant at First Tee — Naples/Collier for 10 years and is a member of the Baron Collier high school golf team and team captain for the Academic World Quest Team at Baron Collier High School where he is a Junior. McElrath plans to continue to be involved with First Tee — Naples/Collier as Participant, Junior Assistant Coach and Volunteer.

“I have been a participant at First Tee / Naples Collier for over 10 years. By becoming ACE – certified, I have completed what I started a decade ago and yet this is not the end of my journey. 
From the First Tee life skills experience and the ACE process, I have learned how to set and reach goals and to always persevere both on and off the golf course. I plan to stay involved with First Tee by volunteering as a junior coach and encouraging other participants to pursue ACE – certification. 
The skills I have learned from First Tee have made me a better golfer, but more importantly a better person and for this I will always be grateful. “  said McElrath.

Jack was recognized at last week’s First Tee – Naples/Collier’s Leadership Series in partnership with PGA Tour Superstore. The First Tee Leadership Series in partnership with PGA TOUR Superstore is an interactive five-week series designed to provide teens the opportunity to discover their personal values and emerging leadership strengths. Through the series, teens also begin to explore potential career fields based on those findings and frame out multi-year goals to guide them as they navigate future career opportunities.

Throughout the series, the teens met and heard from PGA TOUR Superstore associates and First Tee alumni from across the country who will share personal accounts of their career paths and experiences.

The Leadership Series – which was co-created between First Tee and PGA TOUR Superstore – is being hosted in 27 communities across the country where there is a store and a First Tee chapter. PGA TOUR Superstore general managers facilitated the interactive sessions either virtually or in stores and chapters, with safe and socially distant protocols in place.

Once the participants complete the series, they will be eligible to apply for the First Tee Leadership Summit in partnership with PGA TOUR Superstore. The Summit will be held this August at PGA TOUR Superstore Chairman Arthur M.  Blank’s West Creek Ranch in Montana. Forty teens will be selected for the Summit where they’ll take part in interactive workshops and outdoor leadership trainings. The Summit will include First Tee’s core competencies of building character, self-confidence and resilience as a part of the experience, combined with a robust curriculum of leadership and professional development.

“At PGA TOUR Superstore, we are committed to giving back and being a positive influence in our communities,” said Dick Sullivan, President & CEO, PGA TOUR Superstore. “We truly believe in the purposeful impact sports can have in developing and supporting youth. PGA TOUR Superstore is proud to have supported First Tee for more than a decade, working together to open the door to more kids, especially inviting those who are in underserved communities.”

In September, PGA TOUR Superstore announced a new grant that will help First Tee reach more children across the U.S. and strengthen its curriculum for teenage participants, including the development of this new Leadership Series and Summit.

The Leadership Series and Summit is one of several national opportunities provided by First Tee headquarters to inspire and equip teens on a deeper level as they progress through the program and toward higher education opportunities. These events often become life-changing experiences for participants to expand their horizons, meet new people, learn more about themselves and prepare for their futures.

First Tee is a youth development organization using golf as a catalyst for personal growth. First Tee —Naples/Collier reaches more than 1000 young people annually.