“It takes time to learn everything. That’s what I’m taking away from these golf lessons,” he said. “Not everything happens in the blink of an eye. You have to take deep breaths and let it go at its own pace.”
Alex spent all of 2017 at Carrier Clinic before returning this past May, but he’s due to leave on Sept. 4 and is looking forward to starting his senior year of high school. He’s a running back on the football team but the camp really sparked his interest in golf.
Alex was paired with a volunteer from the USGA during the tic-tac-toe game and he let her go first. (Courtesy is also among The First Tee’s core values.) Meanwhile, Marano worked with Alex on using his shoulders more while putting.
“Thank you, Miss Janice!” he called out after landing a ball on the board.
Before arriving at Fiddler’s Elbow, Alex’s only knowledge of golf came from watching the movie Happy Gilmore. For many of these teenagers, this program is their first introduction to the game.
“Being from the inner-city, they’ve never been exposed to golf,” said Carrier Clinic crisis specialist Leslie Marsh. “The kids that come here really enjoy the experience. Alex and Gary talked about the great time they had yesterday and were looking forward to coming back today.”
Marano credits Fiddler's Elbow for its genorisity in making the facilities available.
"They let me do what I want here," she said. "I couldn't do it without their kindness."
The First Tee, which was founded by the USGA, LPGA, Masters Tournament, PGA of America and PGA Tour, sets out to grow the game by changing the experience kids have with it.
“I love working with children and making an impact on their lives through the game of golf and giving them access to it,” said Mary Kate Lynch, program director at The First Tee of Raritan Valley. “Many of these kids haven’t seen a golf course before in their life.”
With the participants continuing to miss the tic-tac-toe board, the camp’s instructor asked if they wanted to move closer to the target.
“No,” replied Malcolm, a 17-year-old with his sights set on technical school. “We like the challenge.”
Perseverance is another one of those nine core values.
Eventually, the group made its way over to the practice range. After about 15 minutes learning the proper stance while hitting irons, the coach handed them drivers.
“I like that!” Gary exclaimed after blasting one of his first shots. But after a few swings and misses, he came to the same realization everyone who has ever picked up a club has had: “Golf is hard.”
He’s not lying.
Jordan Schwartz is the creative and content lead for the USGA Foundation. Email him at email@example.com.