Maggie Hathaway Golf Course has become a training facility for beginners, especially women and children. By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
Golf, like many other activities, has a certain etiquette. It has its do’s and don’ts. It has a certain class, which is higher than what you’ll find at a pick up basketball game or your company’s softball league. It takes certain techniques to get that small ball to go where you want it to, in the hole. It can be intimidating to stare at nearly 500 yards of open space, with all kind of obstacles between your ball and the hole, and with another group not far behind you. If you’re not up for the challenge of the big courses, or you just want to learn the game at a slower pace, then Maggie Hathaway Golf Course may be suited for you. Maggie Hathaway Golf Course has become a training center for many novice golfers, and their First Tee youth program and women’s program have made life long golfers out of many African Americans. According to Gus Robinson, Manager of the Maggie Hathaway Golf Course and the President of the Southern Section of the Western States Golf Association, the golf industry was losing a lot of business in the late 1980s, so they created programs to tap into groups that the sport had ignored for decades. That would be minorities and women.
The golf industry really looked to get children in at low to no costs.“Golfers don’t ever stop playing golf,” Robinson said. “Death and health stops golfers from playing. If you ever play golf, you’re going to play all your life. So if they make it available to you at low cost or no cost, and they wanted to target the disadvantage areas, which are people who would never play golf, they wanted to introduce them to it at an early age. So when they get older and start making money, you have to pay to play golf, that’s a source of revenue (for the golf industry) for the rest of their lives. If you get somebody hooked on something that you know they’ll be doing for the rest of their lives, well then you have a customer base. And all you did was front end it for free.”The First Tee is a program that teaches children how to play golf, and the program has sent a lot of their players to college on scholarships. Robinson points out that there are not as many high school students competing for golf scholarships as there are football or basketball scholarships, so a good player can get his or her education paid for if they have the grades to go to school. Robinson said that he can nearly guarantee a woman who learns how to play golf through The First Tee program a scholarship. Because of Title IX, universities have to spend the same amount on women’s athletics as they do men’s. Because there is no women’s football team, many of the women’s teams have more scholarships to offer than the men’s teams in the same sport. So there are a lot of women’s golf scholarships out there, without that many high school girls competing for them, when compared to other sports.
The First Tee program is only $50 a year for one child, and two or more children in one family is $75. Other expenses are covered by fundraisers. Hathaway Golf Course also has a women’s program that is designed for adults. It is an eight-week course that teaches the proper techniques of the sport. Men are also welcomed to take this course. There are many advantages to playing at Maggie Hathaway Golf Course for a beginner.
“People come to this course because it is small, and you can play it in a short time frame,” Robinson said. “A lot of people do not feel comfortable playing on a big course. So for beginners, you want to play on this course.”The longest hole on the course is 132 yards. The longest hole on bigger courses are nearly 500 yards. And players do not have to worry about holding groups up behind them as much as on bigger courses, which can be intimidating. Robinson says that the course is very family friendly. Located at Jesse Owens Park on Western, just north of Century, there is a picnic and barbeque area that a lot of families take advantage of. There are also a lot of regulars of the course who show up just to play dominoes with their friends. There are numerous golf tournaments played at Maggie Hathaway Golf Course throughout the year, and many local residents have enjoyed coming out for a round or two of golf for many years.
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