In April 2018, First Tee – Tennessee was created through the expansion of our service area. This area combines The First Tee of Middle Tennessee and The First Tee of Tri-Cities under one name, First Tee – Tennessee. The service area of First Tee – Tennessee added all counties in the state of Tennessee, with the exception of Knoxville and the surrounding counties. Knoxville and the surrounding counties will continue to be serviced by First Tee – Knoxville.
For administrative and registration purposes, First Tee – Tennessee will be managed regionally, with overall oversight by our headquarters in Nashville, TN. The regions are (1) Middle Tennessee, (2) Tri-Cities, (3) Chattanooga Area and (4) West Tennessee. In the summer of 2018, we will be launching programs at new locations.
The start of The First Tee
The VinnyLinks’ green complexes were modeled after original drawings done by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross for a course he designed for the same area in the early 1920’s, but was never built. The drawings were later found in a Metro Parks trash can in 1988 and were rescued by Danny Gibson, the city’s director of golf at the time. The drawings are now displayed at Golf House Tennessee. It’s in this spirit that the course is labeled a Donald Ross inspired facility.The facility hosted former President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush in a logo unveiling ceremony in April 2001 with a Grand Opening in May of the same year with special guests former U.S. Open Champion Lou Graham, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw and LPGA player Juli Inkster. The facility is named in Vince Gill’s honor as a major supporter of junior golf in Nashville and across the state. Vince was recently awarded the PGA of America Distinguished Service Award in 2003 in Rochester, NY during the 85th PGA Championship.
The VinnyLinks has the distinction as being one of the few, if only, The First Tee Chapters that served the early golfing home to a future U.S. Open Champion. Lou Graham, winner of the 1975 Open at Medinah, C.C. learned the game as a child on the same parcel of land that is now The VinnyLinks. In Lou’s youth, the course was called Riverview and featured cottonseed greens, a tiny clubhouse, no irrigation and no driving range. Lou eventually took his game to other facilities in town, but his love for the course is still evident. The new Vinnylinks driving range is named in Lou Graham’s honor.
The Nashville Chapter was host to the 2003 The First Tee National Academy held at Golf House Tennessee and Legends Club of Tennessee. 49 The First Tee participants from 20 Chapters as well as their coaches and other national leaders came to middle Tennessee for five days of golf, life skills training and reflection. Held in August 2003, the Academy will be remembered as a wonderful experience by those who attended as well as those in middle Tennessee who met the great kids that were a part of it.