Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa partners with First Tee, which helps kids of all socioeconomic statuses get interested in the game, free of charge. Photos courtesy SHCC

Golf’s popularity in Oklahoma continues to skyrocket. And whether you’re a pro looking for the next challenge, a beginner swinging a club for the first time or someone in between, there are plenty of places to play.

At Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, promoting the sport to Oklahomans has been a mission for decades. 

“In March 2000, Southern Hills’ board of governors approved the application of the foundation assets toward the promotion of golf and tennis to children of all diversities and social strata,” says Reagan Kingsley, the club’s director of marketing and communications. These funds eventually led to a partnership with the First Tee program. 

“The program is an initiative to provide all kids with access to the game of golf [and] is grounded on golf’s unique way of instilling and nurturing essential values such as honesty, integrity, sportsmanship and a solid work ethic in young people,” she says. “As of today, more than 130,000 students have participated in the First Tee of Tulsa, and the program remains free of charge to all students.” 

In Midwest City, the John Conrad Regional Golf Course just underwent a large-scale redesign. 

“The word has spread. The course now has open fairways that appeal to players of multiple skill levels, but challenging greens that give even experienced golfers a few surprises,” says Larry Denny, Midwest City’s director of golf. “Couple the Conrad redesign with the quality and consistency of Hidden Creek Family Golf Course, and we believe the diversity of play found in Midwest City is what continues to bring in new and seasoned golfers alike,” says Denny. Hidden Creek Family Course is a nine hole course, perfect for shorter play or for those just learning the ropes.  

To some, golf may be a sport for the older generations. But programs like First Tee are working to change that perception.

 “We’re building game changers by empowering kids and teens to be the best versions of themselves,” says Kingsley. “Our trained coaches not only introduce junior golf and provide an opportunity to enhance golf skills, but they also create a safe, supportive and empowering environment to help your child prepare for life ahead,” she says. 

Midwest City also utilizes First Tee, but the Carl Albert High School golf teams provide a good channel to find new and interested players. 

“Being the home course for successful school golf programs helps to keep us busy with players of all ages,” says Denny.

Etiquette 101

Beginners might be confused about etiquette before they hit the green, but Denny has a simple solution: “The best thing to do would be to golf with a mentor or an experienced golfer. Jump in a cart with someone who can at least give you the basics,” he says. “It will help to reduce your frustration and could help get you more interested in the game.” 

A few tips should you not have a mentor on hand:

1. Stay quiet when others are taking shots.

2. Be aware of the pace of play or allow faster groups to play through before you. 

3. Follow any dress code requirements.

4. Maintain the course as you play, with a ‘leave no trace’ mentality.

5. Tee times are specific; always be punctual and, if possible, early.

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