Funds from the 1995 and 1996 PGA TOUR Championships were placed in the Southern Hills Country Club Charitable Foundation and in March 2000, Southern Hills Country Club’s Board of Governors approved application of the foundation assets toward the promotion of golf and tennis to children of all diversities and social strata. The Southern Hills Country Club Charitable Foundation has been instrumental in the development and continued success of the First Tee program at Mohawk Park for the youth of Tulsa. Nick Sidorakis and the Southern Hills Country Club Board of Governors continues to work tirelessly behind the scenes raising and seeking funding to defray operational costs to keep the program free to all participants. This program is an initiative to provide access to the game of golf to all kids. The program 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.
In 1999, a partnership between Southern Hills Country Club Charitable Foundation and First Tee was formed. The physical plant construction was started in the summer of 2000 and was completed in 2001. Phase one included construction of a practice driving range and chipping and putting green (which Mohawk Park has never had) for use by the general public and the First Tee program. Further, it included the re-routing of the back nine of the Pecan Valley Golf Course for the First Tee program. In excess of $475,000 was raised to start the phase two construction of the Junior Golf Headquarters and Learning Center.
Janice Gibson was hired as the Program Director in the spring of 2001 and the first classes were in session the summer of 2001.
Sunday, October 14, 2001, was the grand opening of First Tee — Tulsa Junior Golf Headquarters and Learning Center at Mohawk Park Golf Course. The 5,079 square foot facility (enclosed area and porches, decks, etc.) features an indoor hitting facility, including a computer learning center; classrooms to conduct educational programs; class space for activities that will develop participants’ self-esteem, civic responsibility and confidence to broaden their goals in life.
The grand opening was well-attended by the program participants, their parents, First Tee — Tulsa Board members, program instructors, the Tulsa community and representatives from the First Tee home office. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a life-size version of the statue entitled, “Someday,” created by Rosalind Cook for the U.S. Open contestants, was unveiled. Southern Hills Country Club Charitable Foundation donated the statue to First Tee—Tulsa in honor of Al Bush, Chairman of the 101st U.S. Open, for his efforts on behalf of Southern Hills Country Club. The statue is dedicated to all the boys and girls who, through First Tee, will have the opportunity to play and enjoy the great game of golf.