Superintendents Encourage Kids to Take Up Golf

Members of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association introduced more than 100 schoolchildren to golf and the business of growing the game at the second annual Kids on Greens Day in April. Superintendents in the South Carolina state capital, Columbia, and one of the nation’s golf capitals, Myrtle Beach, led students through field trips covering everything from cutting cups to putting balls. Kids on Greens Day is part of South Carolina Golf Week recognizing golf’s $2.3-billion economic benefit to the state.

“It was great for the kids and for us,” says Randy Allen, CGCS, director golf course operations for the Burroughs and Chapin Company in Myrtle Beach. Several superintendents from the company assisted Allen in a four-hour outing at Myrtlewood Golf Club. Allen’s group hosted fourth and fifth-graders from Myrtle Beach Intermediate School. “For many of the kids this was their first hands-on experience with the game. Who knows in years to come whether they will become golfers, or superintendents, but they certainly had a wonderful time,” he says.

At Charwood Country Club in West Columbia, Chris Taylor, superintendent, hosted eighth-graders from Pine Ridge High School. “In these days where kids spend so much time with virtual experiences on the internet, and with entertainment like television and Ipods and so-on, they love the chance to really touch and feel something as real as a golf course,” Taylor says. “I think it’s important for the next generation to understand what goes into maintaining a golf course. And it’s important for them to know that golf is an ally in the community as well as an important part of the economy.”

Craig Taylor, no relation to Chris, made a similar point after hosting fifth-graders from Rice Creek Elementary School at The University Club in Columbia. “These kids are interested in sports, certainly, but they are interested in the environment too,” he says. “They thought it was really cool that our irrigation system was computerized and remote-controlled. They loved how precise we could be with where we put the water.”

Taylor also thrilled students when he had a crewmember bulldoze a green as part of a major renovation at the 27-hole facility. At each venue, students witnessed equipment in action, walked part of the course, and received instruction on the driving range and putting green. After lunch, the Carolinas GCSA also presented each student with an education kit as part of a goody-bag to take away from his or her course visits.

The Carolinas GCSA plans a similar event in North Carolina later this year and hopes to spread the initiative across the region in the coming years. “Our members are committed to their profession but they are also committed to the success of the industry,” says Carolinas GCSA executive director, Chuck Borman. “We need to grow the game and grow awareness that golf is a cleaner, greener, more sustainable industry than most. I think Kids on Greens Day will become a major event in Carolinas golf over the next few years.”

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