The Manila officers of the USGA Junior Golf Program met on May 20 to discuss fund raising projects for the golf program. Sandra Sparks serves as chairman, Trena Shedd, secretary and C.W. Cummins, instructor. Also present were officers from the Gosnell parent group, Jennifer Childers, Carol Myers and Shawn Kammerlien.
Cummings began the meeting explaining the need for matching funds for the Junior Golf Program. The USGA Junior Golf program received a start-up grant of $40,.800 for the fiscal year Oct. 1, 2000 to Sept. 30, 2001. The grant money was used for equipment, books, instructions and travel expenses.
When the grant was renewed for the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2001, USGA only granted $20,000. An additional $20,000 will be given as matching funds are raised by Mississippi County communities. The matching grant is given as a way to involve the communities in the program. The matching grant fund raisers ensues that golf instruction will remain free to everyone.
In the first year of the Junior Golf Program, 1,117 children were enrolled from Mississippi County. This was the largest program in the state. The Manila group was one of the largest to meet from the county.
The grant allowed the participants free instruction books and fee golf equipment that included balls and clubs. Hundreds of golf clubs were given out during the first year of the program. The clubs were meant for those who continued in the junior golf program. Participants who did not return to the program this year need to return the clubs for the new participants.
Volunteers are needed for the summer program that meets at 2 p.m. on Thursdays.
Several communities have held fund raisers. Blytheville had a yard sale and raised $3,600. Gosnell had a car wash and base sale on Saturday, May 25. Many individuals and companies have made donations. Manila will be having a parent meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, June 10, at City Hall to begin organizing fund raisers. All parents with children in the golf program and any others interests in helping are encouraged to attend.
Cummins said because of the success of the USGA Junior Golf Program in Mississippi County, it has drawn the attention of a program called First Tee. This is a separate program that is sponsored by the Professional Golf Association Tour (PGA Tour).
First Tee contacted Cummins about becoming a First Tee Chapter. To become a First Tee Chapter a program must meet certain standards. The standards include: non-profit agency sponsoring the program (Mississippi County Economic Commission); 15-year contract with this non-profit agency; and a three-year lease for facilities.
These three have begun to happen with the Junior Golf Program. Cummins has worked diligently to have the Junior Golf Program become First Tee of Northeast Arkansas. This should happen in the next three to six months. More information will be given about this program as it becomes available.