• Ace is the top level of First Tee Life Skills Experience. Ace focuses on personal planning and reinforces self-management, goal setting, self-coaching, interpersonal communication and resilience.
  • To achieve Ace Certification, participants must complete four projects and score a minimum of 80 % by the Ace Judging Committee.
    • Ace Projects: Enjoy Golf for Life, Plan for Life & Career Possibilities, Give Back to the Community, and Explore Educational Opportunities.
  • Ace Certified participants are recognized at a national level for their accomplishments through network publications, social media, and the website.

Qualifying for Ace

  • Reaching the Ace Level is something that is accomplished over a series of years and commitment to First Tee – Manhattan. We view the Ace Level as something that is earned and not awarded.
  • Age: Participants must be 14 years old and/or entering 9th grade.
  • Programming Hours: To be eligible to certify to the Ace level, participants must complete a minimum of 50 hours of the First Tee Program curriculum after they turn 12 years old. This can be a combination of 12–13 sessions and 14+ sessions.
    • Contact Aaron Wall at aaronw@firstteemanhattan to see how many hours your participant currently has completed.
  • Staley School of Leadership Studies Class: Participants must complete a minimum of 6 Leadership Studies Classes delivered by Mike Finnegan. These sessions are held weekly throughout the summer program for the 14+ session.
  • Written Tests: Score 80% or higher on two (2) written tests covering the First Tee Life Skills and Golf Knowledge.
  • Playing Requirements: Complete ten (10) 18-hole rounds meeting the following requirements:
    • Play fast, safe, and courteousScore = 108 & under on Par 72 course, 100 & under on Par 70 course, 90 & under on Par 60 course, 81 & under on Par 54 course.
      • Formula to calculate required score: Total Par + (Total Par/2)
        • Example for a Par 72 course: 72 + (72/2)  >>>   72 + 36 = 108
        Two 9-hole rounds can be combined to make one 18-hole roundParticipants can use scorecards compiled from previous years including tournament rounds.
    • Scorecards must be turned in to Aaron Wall

Beginning the Ace Program

After a participant meets all requirements for the Ace program a Parent/Participant meeting will be scheduled with Aaron Wall to go over what to expect, schedules, and expectations. Participants will receive their Ace Yardage Book at this time.

What to Expect

In the Ace level, participants will explore and learn more about their golf game—whether they chose to compete at the next level, in amateur events or as a recreational activity—interesting careers, the value of volunteering and giving back, and what lies ahead as they prepare for college and other educational opportunities. They will work closely with peers, First Tee Coach, and community leaders to complete several fun and challenging projects that will help them plan for their future.

All the Ace projects provide participants with experiences to develop and practice leadership skills with their coaches and other participants in First Tee. When you become certified at the First Tee Ace level, they not only receive local and national recognition—to include the highest amount of life skills points for national participant opportunities—but also will have built a Go-to Team that can become an ongoing network of support as they pursue their educational and career goals.


The Ace program is self-paced and is required to take a minimum of one year to complete all four projects. Most participants will take 1-2 years to complete depending on their availability and motivation.

The Ace program schedule differs from the traditional schedule participants and their families are accustomed to at First Tee – Manhattan. Previously, participants would registerer for a specified time to attend their session during the spring, summer, and fall. The Ace program takes place throughout the year, including the winter, and is scheduled based off the participants and coaches availability. Participants have the option of scheduling individual meetings and/or attending office hours with Aaron Wall.  

  • Office Hours: Office hours will be used 2-3 times a month throughout the school year. This is a scheduled time that any Ace participant can come to Colbert Hills to receive assistance on their Ace projects.
  • Individual Meetings: If Ace participants are unable to attend office hours, they can schedule an individual meeting with Aaron Wall at a mutually agreeable time. These meetings will be held at the Colbert Hills clubhouse.

Ace meetings and office hours will be used as a time to review current progress on projects, work on new portions of a project, or start a new project.

Ace participants are still eligible and encouraged to register for any 14+ session offered in the spring, summer, and fall or the Ace only session offered in the summer.


  • Ace participants must demonstrate the ability to be self-motivated throughout the Ace program as portions of the curriculum are self-guided. However, a First Tee Coach will be readily available to assist Ace participants with their projects. 
  • Ace participants are expected to complete assignments in their Ace Yardage Book outside of scheduled meetings and office hours. Scheduled meetings and office hours will be utilized for discussion, planning, review of previous work, and to answer any questions. 
  • Ace participants must take the initiative to schedule meetings with Aaron and attend office hours. If Aaron has not heard from an Ace participant in several weeks, he will reach out to the participants.
  • We understand the participants are busy during the school year and might not have the time to commit to working on their Ace projects throughout the entire year. In that case, please communicate with Aaron about your availability so he can plan accordingly.


Per First Tee – Manhattan’s risk management requirements, all communication between a participant and First Tee coach must include a parent or guardian. This includes emails and text messages.

Communication between Ace participants and Aaron is very important throughout the Ace Program. Participants are welcome to text or email Aaron at 785-341-1992 or [email protected]. This line of communication can be used to schedule meetings, ask questions, or share information so long as a parent or guardian is included in the conversation.

Ace Participants Benefits

Thanks to the Kansas State University Golf Course Management & Research Foundation, all active Ace participants and Ace certified participants receive a complimentary privilege to Colbert Hills! This gives them free access to the Championship Course and driving range throughout the year.

Privileges will remain active throughout their time in the Ace program and will continue after they complete Ace certification. Privileges will expire when participants graduate from high school or are no longer actively working on their Ace projects.