A new generation of Black golfers gathered up in the heart of South Los Angeles, at a golf course on Charlie Sifford Drive, to demonstrate their dedication to studying and mastering the sport. Boys and girls as young as three years old arrived one by one, carrying golf clubs.
During the Cameron Champ Foundation Junior Clinic at Chester Washington Golf Course, everybody had an encouraging tale to share.
Pierre Campa, a 13-year-old, was there. He was 18 months old when he was adopted in Haiti by the Campa family from Riverside, just days after the devastating 2010 earthquake there. He saw “The Short Game,” a Netflix film about the finest 7-year-old golfers competing at the Pinehurst Resort golf course in North Carolina, when he was five years old. Suddenly, he was playing a plastic flute and hitting a ball around the house. His father realized he was attempting to play golf. After that, the rest is history.
Campa can hit a golf ball 250 yards, competes in junior tournaments, and hangs out at a Jurupa Hills golf course. He became a citizen of the United States, is a fan of PGA player Jordan Spieth, and wishes to continue playing golf. Eddie, his father, has even taken up the sport. He said, “I learnt to be an excellent caddy.”
Alysa Davis, 14, from Palos Verdes, was there. She has been playing golf for nine years and is a freshman at Peninsula High. You want to keep a careful eye on her while she putts because of her red acrylic french tip finger nails. Davis enjoys “how golf is different” and how each course presents a unique challenge.
“There are a lot more young people my age on golf courses now than there were when I was younger,” she remarked.
There were the Young brothers, Kholin, 13, and Hunter, 15, who both play basketball and golf for Loyola High School. Hunter remarked of the sport, “I adore how quiet it is.”
His younger brother praised the level of focus required to achieve at golf. Kholin stated, “I enjoy swinging the club.” “I enjoy the emphasis on improving and trusting oneself.”
There was the Culver City Ibrahim family. Three boys and three girls, aged 3 to 17, are being trained by their enthusiastic father, Rashid, who grew up in Somalia running middle-distance races and discovered golf as a way to bring his children together in one sport. Yes, when practicing golf, they wrecked the family apartment, hitting walls, TVs, and windows. Because he’s too hazardous with a golf ball, the 3-year-old must be sent outside. Culver City High’s two eldest siblings are also golfers. The following year, another will arrive.
When you ask the six kids who in the family is the best putter, they all claim to be No. 1.
“It’s me,” Siham, 14 years old, affirmed.
Hundreds of young golfers attended the clinic to learn strategies and meet Champ, a Sacramento native who now plays on the PGA Tour. Champ is interested in establishing a golf academy at the Chester Washington Golf Course. When First Tee dropped out of the community more than two years ago, the community lost a year-round youth golf program. Tee Divas and Tee Dudes, a humanitarian organization, has been supporting the effort to aid young golfers in South Los Angeles.
Jenny Bethune, chairwoman of Tee Divas and Tee Dudes, remarked, “If you can reach kids young at golf, that’s when you can keep them.”
What is obvious is that inner-city kids are interested in playing golf. They just need someone to teach them the game and give them a chance to play.
This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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