The Hi-Tee Junior Little League Golf Program, based in Renton, Wash., has received a grant from the Make Golf Your Thing initiative.
The Hi-Tee non-profit program is the attempt to introduce golf to young African-American youth, and expose the youth to all aspects of the game from learning how to play, to learning how to caddie; and particularly to open the doors to them of the business of golf, from learning how golf courses are designed, to learning how to produce and fit clubs, to learning how to maintain the grounds.
Lenard (Bo) Reeves is the founder and CEO of the Hi-Tee program. It is a youth golf organization in the Seattle and King County communities exposing African American inner-city youth ages 5 and up to the wonderful world of golf.
“I feel happy and blessed to have an opportunity to work with a group of youth to hopefully keep them focused, stay in school, stay out of trouble and learn and enjoy the game of golf,” Reeves says. “After 11 years of working with other youth golf programs, I felt I had to establish a way to introduce inner-city African American youth to the game of golf. Organizing and starting a golf little league program is a dream that I have had for many years.”
Hi-Tee’s first golf camp was held on September 7, 2019 at Seattle’s Jefferson Park Golf Course in partnership with FAST (Fathers and Sons Together), enrolling 65 youth to the golf program, after receiving their first grant from King County Parks.
In all, this year 81 grassroots golf organizations will receive a total of $750,000 in funding to further their efforts to engage underrepresented populations of the sport. These groups are being awarded with a grant through Make Golf Your Thing, the industry’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in making the sport more welcome for all.
Initially introduced in 2021 (by the Make Golf Your Thing youth & adult player development work group), the grant program to date has provided 155 grants to 110 unique grassroots organizations, totaling more than $1 million overall since 2019. The program was established to support organizations dedicated to increasing participation among golf’s underrepresented populations.
“When the game comes together and pools every resource to grow and broaden the reach of the game, only great things can happen,” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA and executive sponsor of the youth & adult player development work group for Make Golf Your Thing. “This unifying movement is helping to make a difference in communities across America, and advance the game in ways none of us can do alone.”
“Access to golf in a business context is a pathway to opportunity,” said Anna Alvarez Boyd, co-founder of FairWays to Leadership (one of the 81 grant recipients). “Our group’s mission is to increase diversity in business and in golf by teaching college students from diverse backgrounds the skills they need to become effective leaders. The financial commitment of the grant program to organizations like ours will only further golf’s collective efforts to bring new and diverse audiences into our sport.”
The grant program is part of the industry’s broader commitment to making the sport more inclusive for all. Last month, a new Make Golf Your Thing search directory was launched for consumers, consisting of more than 8,400 registered golf programs and organizations across the U.S. The directory allows individuals to search for programs and events using filters such as location, age, ability, gender, etc., giving new and diverse audiences an opportunity to become more engaged in the sport through programs in their own community.
Formally launched in May 2021, Make Golf Your Thing is the industry’s movement to make golf accessible to individuals from all backgrounds. Led by six cross-industry work groups, the initiative is specifically focused on: education & skill development, talent acquisition, procurement, human resources, youth & adult player development, and marketing/communications.
Funding for the grant program is being administered by the American Golf Industry Coalition, a partnership among golf’s leading organizations to promote and advocate for the collective interests of the sport. Financial support for the program is led by a contingent of industry supporters committed to making the sport more welcoming and inclusive for all.
About Make Golf Your Thing
A multi-faceted, multi-year movement, Make Golf Your Thing is a collaborative effort across the industry to invite more people to golf from all backgrounds. Six cross-industry work groups are committed to making the sport more diverse, equitable and inclusive, with a specific focus on: education & skill development, talent acquisition, procurement, human resources, youth & adult player development, and marketing/communications. For more, www.makegolfyourthing.org.
About the American Golf Industry Coalition
The American Golf Industry Coalition advocates on behalf of golf’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; environmental and sustainability initiatives; contributions to the economy (local and national); health and wellness benefits, as well as charitable giving. The organization unites the golf industry in pursuit of goals designed to enhance the vitality and diversity of both the business and recreational levels of the sport. The American Golf Industry Coalition is a division of the World Golf Foundation. To learn more, visit www.golfcoalition.org.