The First Tee LINK has announced the start of the third season of its program for Midcoast younsters ages 7 to 15.

Keenan Flanagan, PGA Professional at Rockland Golf Club, and Jim Povec, program director, said they are excited about building on the strong program enjoyed by 46 golfers last summer.

There will be two five-week sessions on Thursdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Rockland Golf Club.

Session One begins May 31 and runs through June 28. Session Two will be July 12 until August 9. The cost of the program for students is $50 for each five-week program, or $40 per student for families with two or more siblings participating. If your child does not have golf clubs, we have sets available on loan for the season.

For information about scholarships available to families in need of assistance, call Povec at 704-280-7595 .

To register a student, to volunteer, or for more information, call the Rockland Golf Club at 594-9322.

Golf is unique from other sports because players learn values such as honesty and responsibility by calling penalties on themselves and reporting their own score, Povec said. The sport is a perfect platform for helping youth develop character because, just as in life, players experience the highs and lows of the game. Since 2005, The First Tee has impacted more than 20,000 young people in Maine communities.

Each of these individuals has been introduced to the lifelong sport of golf while learning skills such as goal-setting, managing emotions and resolving conflicts. At every level of instruction, the program emphasizes Nine Core Values™ (Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Respect, Confidence, Responsibility, Perseverance, Courtesy and Judgment).

Why don’t more young people learn to play golf? Research shows the primary reason is a lack of affordable junior golf programs and golf courses that welcome them. In 1997, the LPGA, Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA formed a partnership with the help of Founding Corporate Partner, Shell Oil, to lead an initiative called The First Tee. This initiative began as a way to bring golf to children and teenagers who otherwise would not be exposed to the game and its positive values.

The First Tee has grown steadily into a robust youth service organization that instructs and inspires more than 4.1 million young people annually.

Povec, program Director for The First Tee LINK at Rockland Golf Club, said, “We always are looking for more coaches and volunteers to become involved in this important program. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in helping children learn life skills through golf.”

Coaches will be background-checked to assure the safety of the students.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.