Wilson Golf announced its sponsorship of The First Tee of Chicago and the Illinois Junior Golf Association (IJGA), locally based organizations that have championed the youth golf movement in the Chicago area and throughout the state of Illinois. The mission of The First Tee of Chicago, the local chapter of The First Tee program, is to introduce the game of golf and the life skills the game embodies to inner city youth and provide ongoing golf instruction to interested juniors free of charge.

“Wilson Golf is proud to support these vital developmental golf initiatives,” said Tom Gruger, global marketing director of Wilson Golf. “It is our goal to enhance the experience of The First Tee of Chicago participants and IJGA members throughout the 2008 season and beyond. We look forward to continuing to positively impact the lives of Chicago-area children on and off the golf course.”


In its eighth year of operation, The First Tee of Chicago continues to rank among the most successful chapters in the nation, annually producing more than 18,000 interactions with youth participants and offering approximately 250 junior golf clinics and programs in 2007 alone across three city-based learning centers at Douglas Park, Marquette Park and South Shore.


As part of its partnership with The First Tee of Chicago, Wilson Golf is sponsoring the Crosstown Shotgun, a golf fundraiser benefiting the Chicago chapter on June 20 at the Chicago Park District’s Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course. In its third year, the tournament coincides with the series between the Chicago Cubs and the White Sox. Following the morning shotgun event, participants will attend the game at nearby Wrigley Field to cheer on their favorite team.


“We believe it is time to take The First Tee of Chicago to the next level,” said Josh Lesnik, president of KemperSports, which has operated The First Tee of Chicago since its inception in 2000. “With allies like Wilson Golf, a true ambassador of junior golf, we can continue to grow our Chapter, its programs, and ultimately the number of children who benefit from learning the core values associated with the game of golf.”

The Illinois Junior Golf Association (IJGA), the second largest not-for-profit state-based junior golf association in the nation, has been conducting junior tournaments for more than 40 years throughout the state of Illinois. The IJGA annually provides more than 12,000 playing opportunities to its 2,500-plus members, conducts educational clinics and events and acts as a junior golf informational clearinghouse. The association’s annual lineup includes more than 40 Regional tournaments, six Junior Opens, the Illinois State Junior Amateur Championship, Team Championships, the Tournament of Champions and 33 Youth Development Program events throughout Chicagoland.


Wilson Golf is taking a vested interest in the IJGA as title sponsor of the Youth Development Program (YDP), in which members ages 6-13 focus on the fundamentals, rules, etiquette and overall fun within the game of golf as well as compete in Parent-Junior tournaments and YDP playing events. Throughout the course of the 2008 YDP event season, which began in May and runs through mid-August, Wilson Golf will contribute age and gender-specific junior golf equipment and accessories to YDP participants as well as provide on-site fitting opportunities at the competitions.


“We are pleased to count Wilson Golf among the supporters of our longstanding commitment to junior golf in the state of Illinois,” said Carrie Holub, executive director of the IJGA. “This partnership will help advance the Association’s ongoing efforts to enhance the playing and educational opportunities for our growing membership.”