Rockford Pro-Am gives thousands to junior golf programs - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford Pro-Am gives thousands to junior golf programs

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Great athletic talent usually starts at a young age, and one young athlete already has high hopes for his golfing future.

"I think I want to be in like the PGA, and stuff like that." -says nine-year-old Erik Gibbons.

The world of professional golf is highly competitive, and separates the good swings from the great. But, before anyone reaches the top, they start with the basics at programs like The First Tee of Greater Rockford. The First Tee Coach Patty Henk spends spring, summer, and fall applying the rules and etiquette of golf to everyday situations.

"She makes it fun by making us do golf, even though we're learning something else." -says seven-year-old Molly Ryan.

Lessons like shaking hands before the round starts, and wishing your competitors good luck, all become second nature thanks to Coach Henk and her volunteer helpers.

"It's a life skills development program, so, we will end up with some people that will play golf for life. But, we really want the kids to develop those skills that they'll use in work situations, and in family situations for the rest of their lives." -says Henk.

The Rockford Pro-Am donates to the Junior Golf Association of Greater Rockford every year. The association is made up of The First Tee, and the Park District junior programs. The money given, which, so far, totals more than $200,000, is split between the junior programs. Thanks to these donations, The First Tee can lower lesson prices for kids, or community youth groups, who can't afford them.

"There's situations where kids are not able to pay, or their agency does not have the funds to pay. So, those funds take care of replacing equipment, covering costs that are incurred because of the programming." -says Henk.

Coach Henk says The First Tee of Greater Rockford might not be here today without the Pro-Am's help. But, the tournament isn't just giving money, it gives kids the chance to get inside the ropes and experience real professional golf.

"We have the opportunity to go out and volunteer at the event, marshal on the holes, and some kids have carried leader boards in the past." -adds Henk.

Whether you want to register your child for lessons, volunteer, or donate, head to to find out how.

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