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Leaje Morris with


California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom at the annual Youth on Course Scholarship Luncheon in June.


game’s roots. Scotland’s most enduring gift as the home of golf is the simple model of the town-owned nine-hole course with an honor box and annual dues. The outgrowth in America was the muni, where a kid with little more than loose change could be dropped off to spend the day playing, practic- ing, putting and picking up golf ’s rich history and patois. Easy access golf is the game’s street ball, and street ball is any game’s lifeblood. In my conversations over the years


Youth on Course Participant Profi le L


eaje Morris had a challeng- ing childhood, growing up in a tough neighborhood in Richmond, in a single-parent


household. She had never played golf before discovering Youth on Course in 2013. Now Morris will be attending


Cal-Berkeley this fall after graduating from high school with a 3.91 GPA, and earning a $14,000 scholarship from Youth on Course that will make her dream possible. And Morris is the fi rst to recog-


nize that her new love for golf has guided her. “I have truly become a more


focused and considerate person because of the etiquette I was taught while playing golf through the Youth on Course program,” Morris says. “Golf is a sport like no other, it requires high skills, tranquility and dedicated focus. This game has completely changed my approach to this world.” Morris will even be bringing her golf clubs with her to college. “Youth on Course has increased


24 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2015


my desire to play in my free time, and I want to return after college and volun- teer with Youth on Course, especially after I become a more experienced golfer in college,” Morris says. Morris has no ambitions to play


professionally, but she loves the way golf connects her with her peers, and can help her pass on the lessons the game has taught her. “Youth on Course has given me


the chance to be surrounded by loads of younger children, and because I am slightly more experienced than most of them, I am given the chance to mentor them and ask them questions


about their plans for the future,” Morris says. “This program has allowed me to embrace my role as a leader. “I have also brought this


game into my family, and have played several rounds with them, which has helped us to create a stronger bond.”


with tournament pros and amateurs, the experience of an early start on a modest but affordable course has been a frequent common bond. It could be Mark Calcavecchia routinely playing 45 holes a day on a scruffy sand-green course in Nebraska, or Fred Couples riding his bike to Jefferson Park in Seattle, or young Tiger Woods spending hours at the Heartwell par-3 course in Long Beach. Person- ally, I got immersed in the game as a boy in the 1960s at what is now Diablo Creek GC in Concord, where I could buy an $11 monthly ticket and play 18 holes for 25 cents. But getting kids into playing golf


isn’t as easy as it used to be. Between the demands of school, heavily scheduled outside activities and the distractions of new technol- ogy, they have less free time than previous generations. Even factoring infl ation, the game costs more to play than it used to. Getting a kid to a course can be diffi cult when more families have two work- ing parents, and parents in general feel a greater need to be pres- ent for their children’s activities. It’s


no mystery how golf can get elbowed out by modern culture. The First Tee ad-


dressed these issues by building some 200 stand-alone facilities around the country,


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