First Tee hires first-ever Muskegon Area Director

Categories: Donor Information, Parent Information, The First Tee Nine Core Values, Uncategorized

Link to MLive Article About Erik



MUSKEGON, MI – June 16, 2020 – Since 2013, First Tee West Michigan has provided youth development and golf programs to young people in Muskegon, Kent and Ottawa Counties.  This spring, First Tee hired Erik Sanford as its first-ever Muskegon Area Director.

Erik Sanford is a well-known name in Muskegon golf community, graduating from Whitehall High School in 1995 as a four-time all-state golfer and leading his team to four state appearances. Sanford went on to play golf at the University of Tennessee – Martin, and has won various local golf tournaments since.

Sanford’s work experience includes more than fifteen years working for the Department of Health and Human Services in Child Protective Services, Catholic Charities West Michigan, and as a teacher and a behavioral specialist at an elementary school in Reed City.

“We’re thrilled to have Erik as our first Director in Muskegon,” said Executive Director Tyler Smies. “His background working with youth from all walks of life, along with his passion and skill for golf make him the ideal fit for this role. We can’t wait to see the impact he’ll make on young people in Muskegon.”

First Tee of West Michigan grew tremendously last year in Muskegon County, teaching life skills and its Nine Core Values through the game of golf to 200 students under the direction of Lead Coaches Terri Clock and Greg Heath.  Participation increased 40% between 2018 and 2019. More than half of students in Muskegon County receive scholarships to participate due to family income.

The hiring of Sanford was made possible through a generous gift made in honor of Gordy Scripps, a Norton Shores resident and Muskegon Country Club member who passed away in 2019.  Only 10% of First Tee’s operational costs are covered by program fees. The rest is raised locally through gifts from the Muskegon community.

First Tee of West Michigan works with more than 1,200 youth annually at 15 area golf courses, including Bent Pine Golf Course, Muskegon Country Club, Oak Ridge Golf Course, Stonegate Golf Club, and University Park Golf Course in Muskegon County.  Registration for summer sessions is currently open, with many sessions beginning this week.  To register a participant between the ages of 7-17, visit

For more information on The First Tee of West Michigan or to interview Erik Sanford, contact 231-670-6580 or email

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