Retired Michigan Teacher Sues First Tee

A retired Ann Arbor area teacher is suing the PGA, claiming that the First Tee program stole his ideas.

As the PGA Championship gets under way at Oakland Hills Country Club, most fans are focusing on the game and big-name golfers.

But Don Simons, a retired physical and special-education teacher from Ann Arbor and an avid golfer, isn’t fixated on what’s happening at Oakland Hills. Rather, for the past several months, he’s been working to resolve an issue in which he claims the PGA of America and the World Golf Foundation pirated his idea for teaching young people about golf, character and life.

“By design or by oversight, someone took my visionary concept,” Simons, 65, said this week about the World Golf Foundation’s popular First Tee program.

Simons said he created the nation’s first formal at-risk-youth golf curriculum in the late 1980s to introduce young people to golf while teaching about honesty, integrity and responsibility. He said the foundation used his ideas in creating the First Tee, and he wants to be credited and compensated for his work.

The smoking gun here may be that Simons has letters from the PGA praising his program, and asking for his further participation.

“We’re hopeful that there are ways in which Inbounds and the PGA can continue to work together. I don’t know quite how specifically … but one thing we could possibly consider is to allow the two of you to travel on behalf of the PGA promoting ‘teachable moments’ with character building concepts.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out.

5 thoughts on “Retired Michigan Teacher Sues First Tee”

  1. That’s interesting that he wants to teach golfing to promote good morals in young kids.  But there is always an ulterior motive. 

  2. I’m not sure I understand exactly why he should be compensated.  He has a program and the PGA also has a program.  If both have a program that benefits at-risk youth using golf, isn’t that a good thing.

    Given credit for the original idea, ok, but compensated?  Definitely don’t agree with that.

    David Stargel
    The Golf Nut

  3. this is only the beginning. the first tee of detroit has a long history of questionable tactics. i don’t understand why the city pays first tee to be on belle isle. wouldn’t that money be better spent in the city?


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