Introducing Kids to the Game of Golf.

Bringing Golf to Inner City Kids

Guest Blogger – Earl Reidlen

When you think about the sport of golf, the first image that pops into your mind probably isn’t an African American boy practicing putts on the roof of his public housing apartment building. Nor is it a Latino girl hitting drives at the local park as her extended family enjoys a picnic.

The truth is, golf has long been a game for people who have money and time on their hands – two things that don’t typically describe the average inner city resident. Youth golf programs have done a good job getting the younger generation interested in the game, but from a socio-economic standpoint, the clientele is still largely white and upper class.

That’s why a number of communities, organizations, and even one superstar have decided to reach out specifically to kids in inner city communities and help them to develop an appreciation for a sport that many would otherwise probably never experience. Just a few of the involved parties include The First Tee, Inner City Youth Golfers of Riviera Beach, Florida, Philadelphia’s Kids on the Hill, and the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The First Tee. The organization was founded in 1997 with a goal of teaching life skills to kids of all backgrounds through the game of golf. Children aged 6 to 17 can participate by taking classes that focus not only on golf, but also things like conflict resolution, honesty, self-reliance, and goal setting. There are now 200 local branches nationwide, and the organization has experienced some amazing success, including opening the first-ever urban school golf facility in 2009 at San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley Middle School.

Inner City Youth Golfers, Inc. Founded in 2000 by Malachi Knowles, the man also responsible for starting the African American Golfers Hall of Fame, this Florida-based non-profit began as an after school activity at the middle school where Knowles was working as a substitute teacher. It became so successful that he turned it into a full-fledged tax-exempt foundation with the stated goal of teaching kids to “Say NO To Drugs – Say YES To Education, Culture & Golf.” The group works specifically with at-risk youth between the ages of 8 and 17, and it also requires parental involvement. Numerous other cities have adopted Knowles’ model, and the organization has already become the number one “inner city youth national golf program.”

Kids on the Hill. Part of Philadelphia’s Police Athletic League organization, the purpose of Kids on the Hill is to “foster character, sportsmanship, and scholarship in inner city children by educating them to the history, play, etiquette, and skills of golf.” For eight weeks every summer, the program brings in PGA professionals to teach local kids the game and help them to develop a love of the sport. A recently added winter program saw every one of the 12 participants make the golf teams at their respective high schools – five of them freshmen.

Tiger Woods Foundation. The representatives of the TWF go out of their way to say that their goal is not to create the next Tiger Woods and that they aren’t a golf foundation. However, it’s hard to completely separate yourself from the game when the person headlining it is the most successful golfer in the world. Plus, the organization raises much of its funding by hosting exhibitions and junior golf clinics that bring in underprivileged inner city kids aged 7 to 17. Those selected will get to work with professional golf instructors to improve their game, and a lucky few receive instruction from Tiger himself. To participate in these clinics, kids have to already be registered in a local inner city golf program. Perhaps the most telling part of Tiger’s success in bringing golf to inner city kids is that participation in those types of programs has quadrupled over the course of his career.

About the author: Earl Reidlen has written poignant articles for the sports world for many years. When he’s not busy writing or fishing with his son, you can find him reviewing companies like M.Putterman. Click here for more information.

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One Comment

  1. I read somewhere about a school for kids with little or no money to buy clubs or balls or any other equipment, but wanted to learn the game. I have two Golf bags I would like to give to them, but do not know where to go. I live in Pompano Beach, Fl.

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