February 23, 2011 - Since it's inception in June 2008, the SCGA Foundation's Youth on Course program has now helped juniors hit over 50,000 buckets of balls! The Youth on Course program creates affordable access to golf for youth by establishing $1-$5 green and range fees at local golf facilities' during off-peak hours.
Major sponsor Callaway Golf Company has been a pivotal supporter of Youth on Corse, helping the program grow to what it is today. "Callaway has been with us since the very beginning when we first set out to create affordable golf access to any junior, and crucial to a new program's success is the driving force of volunteers," said SCGA Foundation Executive Director Kevin Gigax. "Callaway Vice President Steve McCracken has been a leader on our Youth on Course Committee, and has given his time, passion, and expertise to the program's success. We now reach more than 3,500 juniors."
McCracken weighs in on the importance of Youth on Course initiatives, and his involvement with the game of golf, below.
1. How and when did you start golfing?
I started to play golf in 1994 upon joining Callaway as General Counsel. I had been a lawyer in private practice for nearly 20 years before that, and between work and family, there was little time to take up a challenge like golf. Unfortunately, the demands of work and family did not change, and I still haven't given the game the time it both deserves and requires.
2. How did you decide to become involved with the SCGA Foundation?
I try to be selective with the projects I undertake because I always try to do my best and that requires time away from other things. I had been aware of the SCGA Foundation for some time, and was aware of the outstanding qualifications of the staff. The Youth on Course program really appealed to me because of its ability to give all kids a chance to play golf if it interests them. Thus, I was very excited when given the opportunity to work with this great group of people on such a terrific program.
3. Why do you think Youth on Course is a beneficial and/or necessary program for juniors in the Southland?
Growing up, there were two sports that were not even on the radar for me and my friends: skiing and golf. Both were financially out of reach. Yet both are more quickly learned as kids, and the skills (like riding a bike) stay with you for a lifetime. I took up both sports late in life, and can now see what I missed. If the Youth on Course program can give some kids from neighborhoods like mine a chance to try the game early in life, that is a good thing.
4. Callaway in the community
I have been very fortunate to serve on the board of the Callaway Golf Foundation since its founding by Ely Callaway. We have done a lot of good things, but three stand out in my mind because of their impact on the lives of young people. The first was the founding grant we made in 1994 to the great Ernie Wright and the Pro Kids Golf Academy in San Diego. The second was our recent grant to that same organization, which is now the Home of the First Tee of San Diego, to build a second site in Oceanside. The third has been our support of the SCGA's Youth on Course program. All of these programs have made a material impact on the lives of young men and women. Mr. Callaway would be very pleased with what his Foundation has accomplished.