GROW UP WITH GOLF
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The City of Phoenix Parks, Recreation and Library Department is working to change the perception of golf. Through our programs, thousands of youths from various ethnic backgrounds are learning and enjoying the game of golf. The idea is simple - eliminate the barriers that prevent youths from playing golf and than provide an opportunity to play. Providing free golf lessons, equipment and access to the golf courses accomplished this. It also required reaching out to youths in a segment of the population that may have psychological or economic barriers that prevented them from participating.
Two programs were started to meet the goal of providing golf instruction to all youths while targeting minority and lower economic youths. It was important not just to provide a one-time clinic, but to provide a series of lessons and opportunities to play golf once the lessons ended. The first program included hiring a PGA professional to provide golf instruction at targeted inner city schools. The second program provided a free summer program so that youths could continue to develop their skills and play golf during the summer.
The school program allowed the department to reach the target market, including many youths who may never have had an interest in golf. Youths are given a sufficient number of classes to develop their skills. Their excitement and competitiveness are increased, they find that golf is fun, and enthusiasm and interest are peaked. This program has generated sufficient interest in golf for schools to establish their first women’s golf team. These individuals might never have come to a summer program or clinic if not for exposure to golf through this school program.
Throughout the summer, the program offers a series of beginning, intermediate and advanced golf classes at each of our golf courses. Two-thousand, five hundred youths participate free of charge, equipment is provided, and they may repeat classes. Youths who reach the advanced class are provided a set of clubs and are escorted by the instructor while playing golf. The school program helps ensure that we reach our target market. Then, the summer program ensures youths may continue in their new interest and provides all interested youths an opportunity for golf instruction.
The City of Phoenix established these two programs four years ago by designating $40,000 from the Golf Enterprise Division for youth golf programs. The program was expanded in 1998 through by a grant from the United States Golf Association. Equipment is provided through a "Clubs for Kids" donation program at each course and through support of the Arizona Junior Golf Association. Many golfers take pride in helping the youths and are happy to donate their clubs so they can be cut down for youths.
The goal of providing all Phoenix youths an opportunity to learn and play golf is becoming a reality. Thousands of young men and women from various backgrounds have received golf instruction from qualified PGA members, golf equipment, and an opportunity to play golf. These youths are learning a respect for the game, discipline and self-confidence that come through work and success. The goal is not only to produce better golfers, but to develop better people.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.