The First Tee of Phoenix and the Salt River-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) recently celebrated the opening of a junior golf site at Talking Stick Golf Club. This distinguishes the SRPMIC as the first Native American community to host a The First Tee facility in Arizona.

“Talking Stick is a fantastic golf facility that will certainly be an ideal place for youngsters to learn, play and enjoy golf and the many life lessons it teaches,” said Tim Kloenne, Board Chair for The First Tee of Phoenix. “The partnership also symbolizes the unique way that the game brings communities together, builds friendships and creates a positive foundation for the growth of our future community leaders.”

The ceremony kicked off on Saturday, March 28 and included a blessing by SRPMIC Council Member, Tom Largo, followed by a traditional hoop dance.  Principals from each organization, dozens of families, students from The First Tee of Phoenix and youngsters from the SRPMIC were on hand.  Top-ranked, Talking Stick-based instructors Pia Neilsson and Lynn Marriott hosted a golf clinic for the youngsters before they broke into smaller groups to swing away at different golf-skills stations.

“The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is proud to partner with The First Tee of Phoenix and The Thunderbirds to bring this fun and affordable program to Talking Stick Golf Club,” said Martin Harvier, Vice President of SRPMIC. “There will be tremendous positive impacts to the health and well-being of our youth and the life skills they will learn by participating in the program.”

Others who addressed the audience included Kevin Terry, Executive Director, The First Tee of Phoenix; Danny Calihan of The Thunderbirds, founding organization for The First Tee of Phoenix; Guy Garbarino, VP of Philanthropy for The First Tee; and Jim Kern, VP of Century Golf/Arnold Palmer Management, the management firm for Talking Stick Golf Club.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is a sovereign tribe located in the metropolitan Phoenix area. Established by Executive Order on June 14, 1879, the Community operates as a full-service government and oversees departments, programs, projects and facilities. With two distinct histories and cultures, the Community is comprised of two Native American tribes: the Pima, “Akimel O’Odham” (River People) and the Maricopa, “Xalychidom Piipaash” (People who live toward the water). Today, there are just over 10,000 individuals who are enrolled tribal members.