Our History

Convinced that golf is more than just a game and that its inherent nature can significantly influence youngsters in their character development, Al Hoffman founded the Junior Golf Foundation of Greater Kansas City November 6, 1989. Originally known as the Kansas City Golf Foundation, it is a Missouri not-for-profit, 501 (c) (3) corporation.

Al, a dedicated golfer and for many years a Director of the Western Golf Association, helped bring college scholarships to local youth through the WGA’s Evans Scholars Caddie Program. As golf carts replaced caddies, he and good friend Ken Krakauer, Kansas City’s Golf Historian, began talking about finding a way to keep the contributions of our area golfers in Kansas City for the betterment of local boys and girls. The Kansas City Golf Foundation with a mission to serve all juniors and not just caddies resulted.

The first Board of Directors consisted of Al, Ken, and friends Larry Armel, Jim Rood and Bill Russell. Al assembled an Advisory Board from area business and civic leaders, all friends or acquaintances as well as golfers. Knowing Tom Watson’s great interest in junior golf and having run several of his charity golf events in the late 1970s, Al kept Tom advised of the Foundation’s progress. Tom became Chairman of the Advisory Board in 1995.

Both Tom and Al were convinced that for kids to properly learn the game they need professional instruction and places where they can practice and play without getting in the way of other golfers. With this goal in mind, the Foundation, in association with the Midwest Section of the PGA, seeks to Bring Golf To Kids For Fun, For Character, For Life.

The Foundation has built three junior facilities. Its show case, a Tom Watson design, is three holes plus practice and chipping greens on eleven acres at the Blue River Golf Academy in Swope Park. A three hole course is at Leawood’s Ironhorse and a six hole Craig Schreiner design is at Sunflower Hills in Wyandotte County.

The JGFKC’s program was one of the models for The First Tee Program, a national undertaking by a consortium of the USGA, the PGA TOUR, the PGA of America, the LPGA and the Augusta National Golf Club to make golf more accessible and more affordable to all boys and girls.

The JGFKC is the Home of The First Tee Program for the Greater Kansas City Area and will administer The First Tee’s Life Skills and Golf Experience under the direction of its Executive Director, Ms. Jill Lamson.

Significant Events:

1989 — Founding Board of Directors were: Larry D. Armel, Al Hoffman, Ken Krakauer, F.C. (Jim) Rood and William H. Russell.

1992 — Advisory Board established. Among the original members were Henry Bloch, Bill Esrey, Don Hall and Paul Henson.

1996 — Funded the construction of the three-hole junior facility at the Blue River Golf Academy in Swope Park, Kansas City, Missouri, a Tom Watson designed and supervised project. Cost $312,000.

Funded the cost of the three-hole junior course at Ironhorse Golf Club in Leawood, Kansas. Cost $85,000.

The KCGF Donor Fund is established with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. This is an entity separate and distinct from the JGFKC, but dedicated to helping worthy and needy program participants who desire a college education.

1997 — Received the PGA TOUR’s Card Walker Award that is given to individuals and organizations which have made a “significant contribution to junior golf”.

The JGFKC is identified as a model for the World Golf Foundation’s The First Tee program. The WGF is an alliance between the United States Golf Association, The PGA TOUR, the PGA of America, the LPGA and the Augusta National Golf Club.

1999 — The JGFKC becomes the Home of The First Tee of Greater Kansas City and will administer its program in this area.

2000 — The JGFKC, assisted by a $75,000 grant from The First Tee, underwrites the construction of a six-hole Craig Schreiner-designed junior facility at the Sunflower Hills Golf Course in Wyandotte County, Kansas. Cost $125,000.

In its first year of formal programming 1,300 boys and girls are served.

2001- Present — The First Tee of Greter Kansas City now serves over 3,000 young people annually through our programming sites and affiliates at area golf facilities, our In-School program and summer Outreach efforts. The Greater Kansas City chapter is one of the largest and best performing in the global The First Tee Network!