Scholarship Program at Ironwood Golf Course
Golf is a game of opportunity.
Each previous stroke gives way to the next, a new chance to recover from earlier struggles or to continue on the right path. Each round presents a new possibility to improve upon the last. Mistakes are met with dozens of chances at redemption; success is met with great (but sometimes fleeting) rewards.
As in life, golf offers much to be learned through experiences and connections with both yourself and others. At the Gator Junior Golf Association, we strive to integrate the two to reach the local Gainesville community and its youth.
Since 2016, our Grow the Game initiative, which aims to make the game of golf fun for kids that may not otherwise have the opportunity, has led to strong partnerships with both Girl’s Place, Inc. and the Reichert House Youth Academy to create after-school scholarship programs.
Founded in 1982, Girls Place, Inc. offers programs for young women with the goal of empowering them to grow into courageous, strong and self-sufficient young adults.
Reichert House, founded in 1988, offers an after-school program that provides assistance to adolescents often from neighborhoods with high crime rates, having poor academic performance and living in single-parent households.
For ten Wednesdays each season, kids from both programs travel to Ironwood Golf Course to learn the game of golf. All ages, all sizes, all backgrounds together, all exposed to the game’s little nuances and treasured joys.
Lewis Richardson has taught this class for the past three years – a short span relative to his 44-year coaching career – but boast of the benefits of this program, nonetheless.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with kids, watching the thrill the kids get when they achieve something they didn’t think they could achieve, or explore something they thought they would never have the opportunity to explore.”
The mood is light. There are smiles and laughs, hugs, some light-hearted frustration at a poor shot or two, and then some pizza.
“I think the Girls Place and Reichert House programs embody what our program is all about – youth development,” said Sean Warner, President of the GJGA. “We strive to have an impact that begins on the golf course and leads to success later in life.”
Since the beginning of our partnership with the two organizations, the GJGA has reached over 400 kids through the game of golf, all given free access to equipment and instruction through our scholarship program.
In the coming months, our Grow the Game initiative will be expanding once more. Gainesville Community Christian School and its principle James Schrader will be partnering with us in the near future for Tuesday after-school programs at West End Golf Course.
Said Warner, expanding his thoughts on these partnership efforts, “I’m very excited to continue our impact on their lives, so that each student has the brightest opportunities available to them for their future.”