Golfweek TurfNet The Golf Wire
Thursday, March 21, 2013
The First Tee Of Phoenix And OB Sports Golf Academy Launch The First Tee Of Phoenix Elite Academy
Innovative instruction program provides First Tee of Phoenix students a path to college golf
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The First Tee of Phoenix and the OB Sports Golf Academy announced today the launch of the First Tee of Phoenix Elite Academy. Located at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz., the new program provides advanced students with instruction designed to make them competition-ready for college-level golf. The new program essentially extends the First Tee of Phoenix's current suite of instruction programming to serve the more developed students during their pursuit of a college golf scholarship.

"Until now, the students who improved past a certain point needed to reach out to other organizations to continue their progress," said Hugh Smith, Executive Director of The First Tee of Phoenix. "With the new partnership, students can continue to grow with the same First Tee core values as they set their sights towards competing at the college level."

Smith and Jeff Fisher- Director of Elite Programs for First Tee of Phoenix-personally review applications from the pool of students currently enrolled in the First Tee of Phoenix. Once approved, students receive private coaching as well as practice and playing privileges at Longbow Golf Club. Cost of the program for each student will be a combination of a self-pay and funding from The First Tee of Phoenix. Brandon Carlson, a senior at Perry High School, earned the distinction of being the first student accepted to the program. A prime candidate, he was named 2012 Chandler All-District Player of the Year on his way to setting a Perry High record for lowest season scoring average. Visit or call 602.305.7655 to join the First Tee of Phoenix.

Although the First Tee of Phoenix Elite Academy is the first of its kind, molding junior golfers into collegiate players is nothing new to Fisher. In fact, he's already been doing that at the OB Sports Golf Academy since opening it in 2009. During that time, the program has provided fertile grounds for a number of golf success stories in both the amateur and professional ranks. Accomplishments garnered in 2012 by students include 35 tournament wins: nine at the professional level; seven at the colligate level and 19 at the junior level.

For example, Kolton Lapa, of Mesa, topped 60 other competitors to win the 2012 Boys Arizona State Championship, and is now playing on scholarship for the University of Nebraska. Jimmy Kozikowski, another standout, began working with Fisher, in 2010 while attending South Mountain Community College. Two years later, he was one of only five collegiate golfers to win the Jack Nicklaus Award, as the 2012 Golf Coaches Association of America's Collegiate Player of the Year.

"The game of golf provides a world of opportunities," said Fisher. "Our mission is to help students achieve their personal goals within it. In the case of the First Tee of Phoenix Academy, that primarily means working towards a college golf scholarship, and in some cases professional golf."

In 2012, OB Sports Golf Academy students earned scholarships to higher learning institutions including University of Nebraska, Grand Canyon University, University of Tulsa, University of South Carolina Beaufort, University of Tennessee, South Mountain Community College and Mesa Community College.

Several other former students currently compete collegiately at universities such as University of Idaho, University of Colorado, University of Southern California, University of Washington, Portland State University, St. Edwards University and several others.

Fisher has more than 15 years of golf instruction experience working for some of the best that the golf world has to offer including Jim McLean, Jim Flick, Mike Malaska and Hank Haney. Fisher was one of the featured instructors on the Golf Channel series, "School of Golf: Hilton Head Island." Many of Fisher's students have earned AJGA All-American status and have gone on to play competitive golf on the collegiate level at Duke, Georgia, UCLA, USC, Texas and others.

About The First Tee of Phoenix and The Thunderbirds
The First Tee of Phoenix is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by The Thunderbirds almost decade ago as the Valley's local chapter of the national First Tee organization. The First Tee of Phoenix provides affordable access to golf and golf learning facilities for young people in Maricopa County from all walks of life - particularly those who otherwise might not have an opportunity to play. The Thunderbirds wanted to provide young Arizonans a place to learn valuable life skills and character-building lessons through creative activities and instructional programs that incorporate the fundamental teachings of golf. The First Tee of Phoenix currently impacts over 60,000 youths each year at five facilities and 120 schools as part of The National School Program outreach initiative. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. They host the Waste Management Phoenix Open; the best-attended golf tournament in the world, which to date has raised nearly $80 million for Valley charities, including the First Tee of Phoenix. With its unmatched fan participation and rich history dating back more than 75 years, The Waste Management Phoenix Open has gained legendary status for being a unique stop on the PGA TOUR. For more information on The Thunderbirds or the Waste Management Phoenix Open, call 602.870.0163 or visit For more information on The First Tee of Phoenix call 602.305.7655 or visit

Longbow Golf Club and Business Park is a 330-acre, mixed-use commercial development that incorporates office, light industrial, retail and hotel uses surrounded by desert vegetation and a main street transportation design and features the award-winning Longbow Golf Club. Longbow Golf Club features a 7,003-yard Ken Kavanaugh-designed golf course that was recently ranked as one of the "Top 100 Resort Courses in The Country" by Golfweek magazine for 2009. Daedalus Real Estate Advisors, LLC is a Phoenix-based commercial real estate services company that provides investment, development and communications consulting to corporate real estate clients in Arizona and the Southwest. For more information about Longbow Golf Club visit, call 480.807.5400 or become a fan of Longbow on Facebook at, or follow Longbow on Twitter at

Longbow Golf Club is professionally managed by OB Sports Golf Management, a diversified, golf-oriented company with a long history of success. OB Sports currently manages 30 premier golf courses and country clubs throughout the United States. Known for its comprehensive and personalized services since 1972, OB Sports has become widely acclaimed as the leader in boutique-style golf course management. For more information about OB Sports Golf Management, visit, call (480) 948-1300, follow on Twitter at or become a Fan on Facebook at
Jeff Fisher, 480-414-9330,
Director of Elite Programs for First Tee of Phoenix

Hugh Smith, 602-305-7655,
Executive Director for First Tee of Phoenix

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