First Tee – Virginia Blue Ridge To Open First Physical Location In Its 20-Year History Later This Year Within IX Business Park

MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services, which recently established a full-service brokerage office in Charlottesville headed by Executive Vice President Sam Orr, represented the tenant in this leasing transaction

First Tee – Virginia Blue Ridge, a non-profit youth development organization with a mission to “provide transformational and educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf,” has signed a lease with Monticello Associates for approximately 3,700 square feet of space within Ix Business Park in Charlottesville. This represents the first physical location for First Tee, which provided support to more than 350 local youngsters in the past year. Through a partnership with the Charlottesville City Public School System and surrounding counties, First Tee also provides physical education support for an additional 8,000 local students. MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services, which recently established a full-service brokerage office in Charlottesville headed by Executive Vice President Sam L. Orr, represented the tenant in this leasing transaction.

Approximately 10 full and part-time employees are expected to work at First Tee’s offices, located at 943 Second Street, SE, upon its planned commercial opening later this year. The space will be outfitted to support three golf simulators, plus putting and chipping areas that can be utilized for practice sessions and games. It will also include classrooms for mentorship, education offerings, training, and other programming as well as office space for First Tee executives and administrative staff.

First Tee – Virginia Blue Ridge is the local affiliate of First Tee, an organization that began in 1997 as a partnership among the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, the PGA Tour, and the USGA to make golf affordable and accessible to all kids. The national organization has grown to operate more than 150 chapters with 1,700 partnered locations in the United States and six international chapters. First Tee impacts the lives of more than 3.4 million young people around the world annually. Charlottesville-area programs are offered for boys and girls aged 5 to 18, with programming provided by First Tee staff and a network of First tee – trained volunteers, coaches and mentors who share passions for golf and for making a positive difference in the lives of youth, especially those in the underserved population. Approximately 35 percent of local participants are non-Caucasian, with an equal percentage of females.

According to First Tee Executive Director Derek Norberg, the new space in Ix Business Park is a “game-changer” that will give First Tee a new ability to schedule “ongoing and innovative programming to benefit its participants,” as well as a “dedicated space to enhance its training and mentorship offerings.” Norberg explained that First Tee currently relies on partnerships with Charlottesville-area golf courses, practice facilities, and businesses, and while continuing to utilize and strengthen those partnerships, “we will now have a homebase for our students and staff enabling us to make an even greater impact on the lives of local youths. Having our own space means we can schedule future programming with confidence allowing First Tee and our partners to be even more creative and intentional about opportunities offered,” he added.

“Technology is a tremendous draw to our target audiences,” said Thomas Vetrano, Board President, and Chair of First Tee – Virginia Blue Ridge. “It was a priority to curate a dedicated space equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities that would capture the attention of our participants and their families, and advance our mission and positive impact here in the Charlottesville community. We will achieve that goal with our new golf simulators, coupled with other technology that will generate interest and draw new participants.”

“The game of golf is an effective vehicle to instill important lessons about life and personal development, and also to change perspectives,” Norberg said. “In today’s environment, everything comes at you at a high rate of speed, and playing golf has the knack to slow things down, force participants to consider circumstances and make correct decisions. The uniqueness of golf helps shape individuality.  Success and failure in golf is based solely on the practice and performance of a single person making a series of choices during a round.  In turn, this teaches discipline, perseverance, humility, and goal-setting. The goal in golf is to strategically direct the ball from the tee box to the cup, compete, and navigate the challenging environment that is the golf course. Numerous parallels exist in life with regard to achieving objectives, bettering yourself with practice and coming through in pressure situations.  And, just as those choices can have a positive or negative effect on your round the same can be said for life off of it.  Having a team or support system to navigate and develop one’s tools is exactly where First Tee fits in; not making the decision for you but helping you choose your own path.”

Norberg says First Tee “never turns anyone away and our 12-week programs, amongst a variety of other engaging opportunities, are open to everyone.” Funding comes from registration fees, donor contributions and money raised at special events. He said that First Tee is “always on the lookout for individuals who wish to become coaches and mentors, as well as those who wish to donate to the program.”

“We are extremely proud that many of our First Tee graduates have returned home to become teachers and mentors themselves,” Norberg said. “They realize the positive impact that First Tee had on their lives, whether it was overcoming social anxiety, making lifetime friends, being steered in the right direction by a coach or finding a new lifelong passion in golf.”

First Tee – Virginia Blue Ridge currently utilizes a number of locations for its outdoor programming in Albemarle, Greene, and Nelson Counties with Meadowcreek Public Golf Course serving as its primary location.

“The location at Ix Business Park was perfect on many levels, chiefly for its strategic location within a high-profile mixed-use development in the center of Charlottesville,” said MacKenzie’s Orr, who recently joined First Tee’s Board of Directors. “The site is situated within close proximity to many of the students and families currently served by First Tee, and this location was specifically chosen to provide convenience for the next wave of students and families to be served. The program will feed off the existing energy and vibrancy of Ix Business Park, while also adding another destination tenant to the mix.”

The MacKenzie Companies operates six full-service divisions addressing all real estate asset classes. MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services provides a full range of marketing, leasing, acquisition and disposition services to landlords, developers, institutional ownership groups and investors. MacKenzie Management is the largest locally-owned third-party property management firm in Maryland, serving more than 150 clients and managing more than nine million square feet of space in various asset classes. MacKenzie Capital is a boutique real estate capital advisory firm that provides debt and equity capital solutions to owners, developers, and investors. MacKenzie Contracting is a full-service general contracting and construction management firm servicing clients in the healthcare, education, life sciences and corporate industries. The other divisions are MacKenzie Investment Group, LLC and MacKenzie Multifamily Management, LLC. For additional information, visit