By Bob Denney
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- More than 270 youths representing 21 non-profit organizations in Greater Philadelphia braved intermittent rain and unseasonably cool weather to participate in a golf clinic coordinated by The PGA Community Relations Program on Sunday in advanced of the 64th Senior PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club.
Boys and girls from area First Tee Chapters, In School Programs, urban youth and physically challenged youth programs were give instruction by 50 Philadelphia PGA Section Professionals at "stations" featuring the short game, full swing and putting.
"The weather looked bleak in the morning, but to have this many kids turn out to learn more about golf was tremendous," said Philadelphia PGA Section President Mike Cole of Doylestown, Pa. "We had juniors and parents come up to thank us and adding that they had learned something about the game.
"Our Section is proud of the work it does with the physically challenged. The Variety Club is our designated charity and the Buddy Program is close to my heart. There are a lot of great programs in our area, and I think that although the juniors are challenged physically, they all are blessed with so much courage and character."
The City of Philadelphia Recreation Department reaches between 800 and 1,000 juniors annually, and more than 500 participate in a variety of programs during the summer. The Philadelphia PGA Section has established a strong relationship with the department.
"I've been involved in clinics since 1994 and this had to be the best," said Philadelphia Recreations Department Commissioner Victor Richard. "It was first class in all ways. The professionalism exhibited by the PGA Professionals and one-on-one attention and overall enthusiasm was what impressed me. So many times you see people who are going through the motions, but these professionals genuinely wanted to be there. These professionals do so much for the kids."
The PGA of America will provide grounds tickets to the organizations to attend the Championship, allowing junior golfers to be exposed to championship golf. In addition, adult credentials for all rounds of Championship week will be distributed to participating not-for-profit organizations, where adults may bring up to four juniors free to the Senior PGA Championship.
During Championship week, The PGA of America Chalet will host 31 not-for-profit organizations. The PGA Foundation has distributed Growth of the Game grants totaling $203,742 to 13 organizations within the Greater Philadelphia area.
Volunteers from local charitable organizations will provide labor services at the Championship in exchange for a donation to the respective charity.
The following 31 non-profit organizations with youth initiatives are participating in the PGA Community Relations Program at the 64th Senior PGA Championship: