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Think there aren't golfing options for children in the city of Detroit? Think again! You can definitely find ways to get your kids testing their swing – and building their concentration and precision, which are skills that will help them in the classroom, too.
When it comes to mixing academics with the game, Midnight Golf of Detroit leads the pack for older teens. It's limited to high school seniors, but this 30-week mentoring program, now in its 13th year, is a standout for its special blending of golf training with personal and professional development. Kids learn about topics like financial literacy, social media and resume writing, followed by training from PGA of America professionals.
Life lessons are a big part of the game. Sports works as the program's "hook," says Midnight Golf founder Renee Fluker. Most of the kids have never golfed before, so the sport is an access point to teach everyday skills and empowerment – the organization's main focus.
The structure is important, too. Athletics programs provide an organized environment that some kids are lacking in their schools and homes, Fluker says. They're taught proper attire, sportsmanship and get a good workout, too.
What about younger kids? Detroit PAL offers a golf program for children. Or, there are two courses in Detroit proper that will work with kids. Try Rouge Park Golf Course (11701 Burt Road, Detroit). You can set up one-on-one clinics with general manager David Humphreys, a 45-year golfer who's worked with kids through PGA Junior Golf. It's $10 per session and includes the equipment; each is about an hour, and times are flexible. Kids can be as young as 5. Call 313-837-5900. It's similar at Palmer Park Golf Course (19013 Woodward Ave., Detroit); individual lessons for kids are $20 for a half-hour with manager Mark Maccagnone. Call 313-883-2525. (In both cases, programs run in warmer months, about May-September.)
Wondering what younger beginner kids will learn? In Humphreys' kids clinics they start with a basic "GASP": grip, aim, stance and posture. Then, they learn the movements of putting, chipping and half- and full-swing. "It's a game of character," Humphreys adds. "It's the only sport where you could actually call a penalty on yourself."
Golf also teaches kids about the importance of preparation, from eating the right foods to making sure to stretch, Fluker says. "The thing about golf is you've got to think, and you're disciplined," she says.
If you're interested in applying for Midnight Golf, note that the series starts up in October; recruiting is in July and August, with applications available online. Kids have to be a senior in high school or 17 by Dec. 30 of the year prior to the October in which the program occurs.