Sophomore engineering majors, Luke Christy and Kyle Connors, partnered with John Young Middle School in Mishawaka and the Kids Golf Foundation at Harvest Farms Country Club in Sugar Grove, Illinois in order to teach underprivileged kids how to play golf and expose them to the different opportunities that golf has to offer.
Christy argued that the inspiration behind their motive comes from their personal experiences at Notre Dame. Both Christy and Connors are Notre Dame Evans Scholars and were both awarded the Chick Evans Scholarship for caddying.
Christy mentioned that the scholarship not only provides its scholars with financial assistance, but is also centered around being in community with others.
“[The Chick Evans Scholarship] is targeted at helping kids who are in need of financial help go to college and live among kids similar to them as scholars,” Connors said.
Christy and Connors both desire to give back to others in the same way that they have been given to.
“As a community, we understand the incredible privilege we have of going to Notre Dame, for having our tuition and housing covered. So, we wanted to reach out to the youth in the area to make them aware of these opportunities that golf, caddying, and the scholarship has to offer,” Christy said.
This initiative started over the summer when Christy was at Warren Golf Course where he happened to meet John Young Middle School’s principal, Mike Fisher. Christy and Fisher discussed implementing a golf unit at Fisher’s school.
“We both kind of realized that we could sort of do something with each other. We ended up meeting over the summer to talk about logistics, and we ended up agreeing on doing a golf unit in August. This golf unit was targeted at introducing kids to golf, caddying, and the scholarship,” Christy said.
The golf unit took place Aug. 15 and 16. Christy and Connors set up a putting and driving range, as well as putt-putt games for eighth grade students. Christy and Connors assisted with different gym classes centered around teaching kids about golf.
“In total, we were able to put clubs in the hands of over 400 kids. There were four gym classes that we did each day. We got there around 7:30 am and left around 3:30 pm and also set up the gym class for the kids each day,” Christy said.
Both Christy and Connors argued that it was rewarding to see kids being exposed to golf. “We wanted to make kids aware who wouldn’t be made aware otherwise. [After the event], there were kids that were coming up to us and were saying, ‘We’d love to caddy; how can we get into this?,’” Christy said.
Christy and Connors said it was extremely rewarding to see how excited the kids were to come and learn. “Word was traveling to the point where kids were excited before they even got to gym class because they knew what was going on. They knew what they were about to do for the day,” Christy said.
Connors argued that this event would not have been possible without their partnership with the Kids Golf Foundation.
“There’s a group called the kids Golf Foundation out of a country club called Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove Illinois, and we ended up brokering a deal, which involved hours and hours of communication between the Kids Golf Foundation and John Young Middle School. Through this deal, the Kids Golf Foundation sent out golf equipment [for the event],” Christy said.
“They sent out all of this SNAG (starting new at golf) training stuff. It’s all just like basic training stuff, like these velcro tennis balls and these really basic clubs, just to kind’ve introduce them to golf,” Connors said.
Christy and Connors said that they felt fortunate to have connected these two groups — the Kids Golf Foundation and John Young Middle School — together.
“[The Kids Golf Foundation and John Young Middle School] are over 150 miles apart, so to see how they would have been connected, you know, otherwise — and it’s not to say look at what we did — that just goes to show you how much there is out there that’s not out there in South Bend,” Christy said.
Christy and Connors said that, ultimately, they just want kids who are in similar situations financially to benefit in the same ways that they have been able to.
“We want to be a mentor for these kids. And personally, we would like to start a youth caddie program in the area. That’s our vision,” Christy said.
Christy and Connors both said that they are also hoping to expand this initiative with more kids at John Young Middle School.
“The principal kind of already invited us back to do this with the seventh graders too because that obviously would be a great experience for them,” Connors said.