|Life Lessons, Success Stories Prior to 94th PGA Championship Fill PGA Sports Academy Youth Clinic powered by United Healthcare|
|The PGA Sports Academy Youth Clinic at The City of Charleston Golf Course attracted 100 youngsters from several youth organizations, including The First Tee of Greater Charleston. The youngsters received instruction from 25 Carolinas Section PGA Professionals.|
Editor's Note: A photo link to Sunday's PGA Sports Academy Youth Clinic powered by United Healthcare
JAMES ISLAND, S.C. – Is golf getting it right? Is the ancient game with its standard rules and etiquette reaching youth – particularly those in need the life lessons the sport proudly exports? Jeanette Madison of Charleston, S.C., will vouch for golf. It is a game that she does not play, but one that has helped her only son.
"The core value from golf that I see helping my son, first and foremost, is honesty," said Madison, an unemployed single mother, whose 10-year-old son, Terence, participated Sunday in the PGA Sports Academy Youth Clinic powered by United Healthcare. "Being around golf, and particularly the mentoring Terence has received, has helped his attitude, his confidence."
The PGA Sports Academy Youth Clinic, which kicked off PGA Championship Week, featured PGA Honorary Member and trick shot artist Dennis Walters of Jupiter, Fla., and International Long Drive Challenge U.S. Captain Maurice Allen of Atlanta. The clinic attracted 100 youth at The City of Charleston Golf Course. Walters mixed his repertoire of shots with lessons about "never give up on a dream." Allen, 30, began playing golf "seriously" two years ago," and reached his audience first by blending questions about what connection golf has with personal achievement in life. Allen then accentuated his points by pounding drives nearly 400 yards off the back of the practice range.
"The truth is there is not a set definition of success," said Allen, a 2010 Florida A&M University graduate who first missed out on a 2004 Olympic sprinter dream, and now is accepting an invitation to train for a berth on the 2014 U.S. Olympic bobsled team. "Two years ago, I would never have imagined me standing before you owning a Guinness World Record for golf swing speed and getting the chance to travel worldwide. The thoughts you have before you hit a golf ball apply in your life. You use focus, you rehearse, and you work to be prepared. The same applies in school, and in life."
The PGA Sports Academy Youth Clinic featured representatives of several youth organizations, including The First Tee of Greater Charleston, which has its home base at the 83-year-old course. The youngsters received instruction from 25 Carolinas Section PGA Professionals, including the host facility staff guided by PGA Professional Marshall Ormand.
Madison, a fifth-grader at Charleston Development Academy, is the recipient of mentoring from a community volunteer, textile factory machinist Leonard Brown of northern Charleston. Nearly two years ago, The First Tee of Greater Charleston was one of eight nationwide pilot programs offering mentoring.
"There are quite a few success stories, and it is great to hear how things have been working out for Terence," said PGA Professional Ben Grandy, executive director of The First Tee of Charleston, which has served 10,000 juniors since 2008. "There is a lot of teamwork in the community, and we enjoy bringing the program to The City of Charleston Golf Course."
The participants, Grandy said, range in age from seven to 18, and there is more than 43 percent retention in playing the game. Grandy said that he was proud that two Chapter members were chosen to be caddies at a Hofstra University-sponsored Life Skill and Leadership Academy in New York.
As Allen closed his address on a muggy afternoon, the messages still resonated with Jeanette Madison, who was beaming as she watched her son on the practice range engaging with others in PGA Sports Academy skill stations.
"Terence was eight years old when he first picked up a golf club, and I see a difference in him now," said Madison. "He has a better attitude, and he has more confidence about himself. Having Mr. Brown take a special interest in Terence is great. The combination of the mentoring and the lessons learned in golf has been huge."
Allen said that he was moved, when he learned that he was on the same level in his program message about "being prepared."
"My whole effort in any event like this is to motivate people," said Allen. "You want kids to be focused, to move forward. The opportunities that I have had would never have taken place had I not given golf a shot and believed that I could do something special."
Ormand, like The First Tee's Grandy, is a graduate of Clemson University's PGA Professional Golf Management Program. He praised the community leaders who have worked to integrate golf with youth programs throughout the year.
"The teamwork here has been great, and we have been able to have great turnouts for our own golf academy as well as the respective organization's programs that visit us," said Ormand. The City of Charleston Golf Course, nicknamed by some as "The People's Golf Course," has averaged 70,000 rounds a year maintains $15 greens fee for walkers and $15 additional charge for those requesting a golf cart. The superintendent, Shawn Geouge, is in his 12th season. "We have not changed the grass on these greens. They have maintained themselves remarkably well since the course opened back in 1927. This is a special place."
"This is amateur golf at its best," said Carolinas PGA Executive Director Ron Schmid.
Maurice Allen posed for photos with guests and showed off the tools of his trade – a vast array of metal woods that continue to perform remarkable distance marks on his nationwide tour. On the side of Allen's golf bag are the initials "F.A.T.W.H.A.T.W." (For All Those Who Help Along The Way).
"Everybody has to get that first chance to success in life," said Allen. "Success does not come out of the blue."
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