My city’s Parks and Recreation Department offers a program called The First Tee. It is a national program that brings golf to inner-city or economically disadvantaged young people. It’s mission is, “…to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf” (as lifted from the First Tee website).
My boys joined the program, which in our area is run on the Yale golf course.
Every Monday, from May through October, we have traveled across town to participate with other kids 8 – 16 years old being trained by Yale golf pros on basic golf skills, the etiquette of golf, respect for others, patience, integrity, and sportsmanship. It has been an amazing journey, with the boys learning so much, getting to be on the amazing facilities of the course, being trained by the best in the business, and meeting other kids their age with an interest in the sport.
Speaking of the facilities of the course, the Yale golf course is recognized as one of the finest examples of early American golf course design. Many recognize the layout as the best collegiate course in the nation – two of the holes have been rated among the 100 most difficult holes. The website of Yale boasts that their course was voted the #1 college golf course in America. It was designed to be challenging and gorgeous, dropped in the middle of a woodland, complete with swamps and lakes. It is quite removed from anything we experience within the urban surroundings of our city.
The program provides the boys weekly lessons, access to the course at any time, a golf shirt and golf hat, and, after completing the whole program, a new set of golf clubs measured specifically for their size. To have access to this program, we paid $25/kid. Unbelievable.
They have loved it. Their instructors impress the boys every week with their knowledge, and their ability to pass that on to each participant. Every once in a while, the instructors demonstrate a stroke by hitting the ball full out. My sons leave awe-struck with their teachers’ ability. Due to this stellar training, my sons have improved exponentially. Neither of them had any previous formal training in golf.
Besides what it has meant for the boys, it has been a retreat for me. I look forward to dropping them off, always planning time to walk the property. It has spectacular trails (it is also the home of Yale’s cross country team) that wind through the forest and the natural habitat of eagles, deer, turkeys, etc. The woods are filled with the sounds of cicadas, all manner of birds calling, squirrels chatting, and the crack of sticks as rabbits and deers bound over them. Over the months that I’ve walked the course trails, there hasn’t been one visit where I didn’t see deer…lots of them.
As I breath deeply in the quiet and tranquility that nature provides, I am restored and recharged.
Today I went to the golf course simply because I needed to. I needed a place to be quiet and think. I needed a place to pray. George Washington Carver said, “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”
I think that we all need those kind of places. I pray that you find a place to quiet yourself and “tune in”.