November 2010 - Parks & Recreation - 58

N R PA I n A c t i o n

Measure of Success
" Sticks for Kids " exposes underprivileged youth to the game of golf.
By Brittany Schmigel, Golf Course Industry

W

hat began as an
idea to provide children
with golf clubs has evolved
into the Golf Course Builders Association of America Foundation's international Sticks for Kids program. The GCBAA
Foundation developed Sticks for Kids in
1998 as an instructional program for underprivileged youth, designed to give
them an opportunity to play golf and
learn the values the sport teaches. Since
then, Sticks for Kids has grown to more
than 500 programs nationwide and 10 international military bases.
Paul Foley, GCBAA executive director, says shortly after its inception he realized the program would need more
than GCBAA Foundation assistance. In
his search for support, Foley was directed
to the National Recreation and Park Association. NRPA agreed to partner with the
GCBAA Foundation and together the two
organizations decided to supply agencies
with the core materials necessary to run
a camp: 10 sets of new junior golf clubs, as well as
marketing materials and
teaching aids. The participating golf courses could
then add their own volunteer-recruiting efforts to
host a successful camp.
" A big part of the curriculum is ensuring that
instructors teach life values-integrity, sportsma n s h ip, et iq uet te,
respect, safety, and environmental stewardship.
We hope the kids learn
these things in addition to learning how
to swing and putt, " Foley says.
" We find that the age groups that attend have minds like sponges, so we

56	 Parks & Recreation

No v e m b e r 2 0 1 0

teach them. 'You made that divot with
your golf club? Now here's why you're
going to replace it.' " Foley says.
" It's all about life skills and golf and
how to be good environmental stewards, " he says.

A Sticks for Kids
Success Story:
Rock Island Parks Golf,
Rock Island, Ill.
" There are a lot of kids
here and in the summertime, they'll never see a
golf course unless someone provides a program
for them. We wanted to
make sure they got exposed to golf, " says Bill
Fetty, manager of golf services at Rock Island Parks
Golf. The Rock Island, Ill.
Sticks for Kids program grew from around
80 kids to more than 300 in just three
years. Unfortunately, when the economy
began to worsen, the program lost players

www.NRPA .ORG

and Fetty was forced to cut staff.
Many of the local companies that
had supported and funded the program
backed out as well, so Fetty narrowed
the program back to its essentials: golf
instruction and creating opportunities
for the kids to play.
Fetty is determined to keep the program running, even if he has to do it all
himself. " The program is two days a
week. I beg and borrow every piece of
transportation I can get; I even pay for it
out of my pocket when I need to. " But his
dedication to Sticks for Kids and the children pays off every year when at least two
or three past Sticks for Kids participants
make the area's high school golf teams.
" I had a kid that had gone on to college and came back to me, " Fetty says.
" He doesn't live in the area anymore,
but he sought me out and thanked me
for keeping him in golf because he had
been heading down the wrong road. He
said if he hadn't had the opportunity, he
didn't know if he would've ever graduated from high school. " 




November 2010 - Parks & Recreation

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