The Impact of a Legend
“This program not only teaches students how to play golf, it also introduces The First Tee’s nine core values that set these students apart from others.” – Kathy Hoard
Those who know her, or know of her, smile the moment they hear her name. Kathy Hoard is a former Athens-Clarke County commissioner, a beloved community volunteer, and a University of Georgia supporter. A native of Atlanta, she moved to Athens more than 40 years ago with her late husband, Ed. Kathy worked for UGA for 30 years while Ed served as the director of golf at Athens Country Club for 26 years. He later served as a golf instructor at the UGA Golf Course. Ed was active in the Professional Golfers’ Association of America and received numerous state and national honors, but one of his most memorable legacies is his commitment to The First Tee.
The World Golf Foundation established The First Tee in 1997 to provide character-building programs for young people using golf. Ed worked with UGA representatives, the Athens-Clarke County government, the local school system and other community organizations to bring a First Tee Chapter to Athens.
In 2011, when seeking to honor Ed’s legacy at UGA, Kathy was unsure how to make the greatest impact with her gift. An endowed scholarship was the answer. “The staff at the UGA Foundation were patient, helpful and made the process understandable,” Kathy says. “It wasn’t intimidating at all.”
She established the First Tee Scholarship, which is open to any student who has participated in a First Tee Program in the state of Georgia with priority given to students with financial need. The inaugural scholarship recipient in 2013 received $1,000. Today, each scholar receives $2,500 each year for up to four years of study. That progress is due to the growth of Kathy’s endowment, the collective generosity of Hoard family friends, and an annual golf tournament hosted at the UGA Golf Course. There is currently a First Tee Scholar in each class year at UGA.
Kathy is honored that others in the UGA and Athens communities recognize the importance of financial aid and have contributed to the scholarship fund by participating in the golf tournament or donating each year—even in small amounts.
“If young people have the motivation, grades and initiative, it should be possible for them to attend and excel at our state’s land-grant institution,” said Kathy. “Most people think that one must make a donation of $1,000 or more to make a positive difference, but when someone gives the smallest amount of money it, too, makes an impact.”
The First Tee Scholarship is more than just tuition assistance. It’s an opportunity to create a better future for a young person who shares Ed’s appreciation for golf. One could even say it’s a “hole-in-one.”