Golf

Need a golf lesson? The First Tee offers its range to displaced instructors

Mike Davis, executive director of First Tee of the Lowcountry, stands for a portrait Monday, June 13, 2016, at their new office next to the Boy & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island.
Mike Davis, executive director of First Tee of the Lowcountry, stands for a portrait Monday, June 13, 2016, at their new office next to the Boy & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island. dearley@islandpacket.com

Though The First Tee of the Lowcountry doesn’t have a lot to offer in the way of championship golf, it has the distinction of being the first golf facility on Hilton Head Island to return to operation in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

In the upcoming weeks, director Mike Davis hopes it also can serve as a teaching hub.

As the island’s courses continue to dig out from Matthew’s destruction two weekends ago, Davis is offering use of The First Tee’s practice range to any instructors displaced from giving lessons at their home base.

“For the people who make a living teaching golf, we want them to continue to be able to do it,” Davis said Tuesday. “If their course isn’t available to them right now, we’d love to have them.”

The First Tee facility, located behind the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head, offers a full driving range along with short-game practice area and putting green. Though the chapter conducts its own group lessons in the afternoon, there’s plenty of time and space to accommodate others. All that’s required is a phone call.

“They’ll need to coordinate with us to make sure we’ve got room for our classes as well,” Davis said, “but they’re more than welcome. If the folks they’re teaching would like to make a donation, we’ll gladly accept, but one’s not dependent on the other.”

The idea came to Davis as he fielded a call over the weekend from one unnamed instructor who had a group lesson to give, but no place to hold it.

“That got me to thinking if other folks have this need,” he said. “They’ve probably taken a big enough hit with their course being gone, so they’re welcome to use ours.”

Davis said the range, bordered by wooded areas but with no trees on the property, sustained surprisingly little damage when Matthew roared past. With a few days of cleanup, the facility was ready for golf balls again.

“There were limbs all over the parking lot, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to run into on the (range),” Davis said. “But I was pleasantly surprised. The only thing that took a hit was our disc golf course. It knocked out a basket or two, but we’ll replace them.”

The practice range is open to anyone — lessons or not — from 9 a.m. until First Tee lessons begin at 4:30 p.m. Even then, classes usually don’t take up the entire facility.

The range also can be transformed into a short par-3 course, for those who want to go flag-hunting.

“It’s not Harbour Town or anything like that,” Davis said, “but it’s pretty fun to play.”

Jeff Shain: 843-706-8123, @jeffshain

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