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Ozzie Smith Working to Bring Golf To Inner City
By Torleif Sorenson on 9/6/13

Do great minds think alike? Evidently.

Hall of Fame baseball hero Ozzie Smith, who was a major reason the Saint Louis Cardinals won the 1982 World Series, is more than just an avid golfer. He is now president of the Gateway PGA Foundation, the fundraising arm of the PGA of America's Gateway section. In an interview (above) with KSDK sports reporter Frank Cusumano, Smith got a chance to publicize PGA Reach, a project he and the PGA of America's Gateway section have undertaken. Their goal is to aquire enough land within the City of Saint Louis for a 9-hole course and practice and ancillary facilities for children in the inner city to access. The Gateway PGA is working with several social service organizations to plan the facility, which they hope will be open and operating by the time the 2018 PGA Championship is played at Bellerive Country Club in suburban Creve Coeur.

Smith's endeavor is perfectly valid; only one public course lies within the City of Saint Louis boundary: The very busy 27-hole municipal course at Forest Park, near the Saint Louis Zoo and the Science Center.

The First Tee of Greater St. Louis has a facility at Forest Park, but otherwise, all of their other locations are in the suburbs. Clearly, golf has exposure and access problems in inner Saint Louis.

Meanwhile, in a completely separate interview with a golf blogger, Calvin Peete — who won 12 times on the PGA Tour — said the biggest cause of the dearth of black Americans playing golf is a lack of exposure to the game. Peete and his wife are already involved with the First Tee of North Florida, but says the primary responsibility lies with parents getting kids off the couch and out to the course.
"They ask me, 'Why don't we have more blacks in golf on the tour?' I say, 'Well, why don't you introduce your kids to the game?' I can’t go into your house and pull your kid out.

"You've got to expose your kid... whether they want to play or not... but they see your buddies, they're CEOs, they're lawyers or doctors. Those are the people you want to expose you kids to. It just so happens that a few of them might take a liking to the game."
The PGA Reach program originated in Saint Louis, but the organization hopes to expand the program to other cities, as well. With a high-profile, retired baseball hero helping to publicize and drive the effort, here's hoping they succeed.

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[ comments ]
legitimatebeef says:
Funny how Ozzie Smith is choosing this battle, while African-American participation in his own sport, Major League Baseball, happens to be declining as well. Not that I have a problem with that. Golf rules!
mjaber says:
@beef... I think he's choosing golf over baseball because it's an individual sport, and something anyone can do. You don't need to be able to run fast, or hit a projectile moving 80+ MPH the opposite direction. I wouldn't be surprised if he has youth baseball programs and camps that he runs, but those would be limited in both size and scope. It sounds like this program could have a much larger impact.
joe jones says:
When Arthur Ashe came on the scene and became # 1 it was thought that many black athletes would turn to tennis instead of basketball. Never happened. When Tiger Woods began his tremendous career it was predicted that golf would benefit from an influx of great young black athletes. Again it never happened. The rise of popularity of golf in Japan, Korea and now China is because those countries have government supported development programs. The U.S. will never use that approach. Our future stars must come from programs like The First Tee but until we allow kids to play for nothing the sport will be too expensive for black families to get involved. Funding any program like that would be considered politically incorrect in this country.
falcon50driver says:
I'm waiting for a free government golf card. They give food cards, housing, gasoline, cell phones and the latest government giveaway, Marijuana, so why not golf cards?
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