To Coach Robert Hall, golf is more than just a sport – it’s a tool he uses to build strong foundations for life in Nashville’s youth through the First Tee program.

Hall, a Nashville native, grew up just down the road from the Ted Rhodes Golf Course where he has worked and volunteered for over two decades. Growing up in a big family, money was tight, he said, so on Sundays after church, he would head down to the course to caddie and make some extra money.

Hall credits his time spent on the course with keeping him out of trouble as a young man. Now, he uses his time to provide the same opportunities for other young people as a coach for First Tee, a nonprofit organization in North Nashville.

“I wanted to find a way to keep them out of trouble, that’s the whole key to me becoming a coach,” he said.

The course on which Hall spends many days is named in honor of Theodore “Ted” Rhodes, a renowned Black golf professional from Nashville, who paved the way for other Black golfers, just as Hall is paving the way for others. Sometimes, he said, kids just need an extra hand and someone to guide them in the right direction.

As kids progress through the program, starting at age 7 until they graduate at 18, they learn to become skilled players, but the focus for Coach Hall is to teach them life skills. Using what he calls the “wheelbarrow experience,” which is the idea that you can’t ride in a wheelbarrow by yourself, he tells his students that if they trust him to guide them, he’ll take them wherever they want to go.

“We’re giving them tools, core values, responsibility, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, courage…” he said. “Even though we’re teaching you golf, we’re trying to teach you how to live.”

After many years of working with youth, Hall has remained a steadfast role model in the community for many young people and is not afraid to go out of his way for what matters.

“I never know who I’ve got my hands on,” he said. “They say that if you have 99 sheep and one strays away, you go get that one. I’ve got the opportunity to help a young man get in the right direction to go where he needs to go.”

If you know of someone who is making a positive difference in our community, please let us know