While programs like First Tee offer scholarships and help set up courses where costs are low, golf is not a cheap sport to play. There are $100 greens fees. Clubs can cost several hundred dollars. And good instruction — the kind that can turn really good young players into top-notch amateurs — doesn’t come cheap. Nor does access to the kind of courses they need to get used to if they hope to move into the top ranks.
This is in stark contrast to basketball, played on playgrounds, or even tennis, where a racquet and a $3 can of balls can get a kid on the court.
“At the junior level there are some players with some talent,” Woods said. “But as you continue to play throughout golf and continue to move up in levels, the process of screening kind of weeds them out. It’s hard to make it out here.”
Woods has seen the numbers grow in his 10 years as a pro.
“But we don’t have a big enough base for them to have an opportunity to get out here,” he said.
Meanwhile, the USGA executive committee has had blacks before, but currently, there isn’t a single black person among its 15 volunteer members. Asked about that Wednesday, USGA president Fred Ridley pointed out the myriad ways the organization gets minorities involved — other committees, being the single biggest contributor over the life of First Tee. But he conceded, “We have more to do.”
“Hopefully, some of the seeds we’re planting today will pay off and we’ll be happier on this issue in five, 10, 15, 20 years,” Ridley said.
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