Let us take a journey back a few years......
We are now back in the Spring of 2012 and I am at Chardonnay G.C. in American Canyon, CA. I am there to watch the ACHS boys golf team practice. Our son Brandon has joined the team with a couple of his classmates. The ACHS golf program is in its infancy as the school has only been open since the fall of 2010. I introduce myself to head coach Jim Saylor (a man who is passionate about the game of golf) and a couple of other dads that were there helping Jim with the team. I spent that season watching the team either at practice or at their matches whenever my work schedule would allow.
Fast forward to the fall of 2012....
Our daughter Erika is sitting in class when she is visited by the athletic director Mr. Shermantine. He asks her to step outside to speak with him. That is when he informs her that he has been told that she may be interested in playing on the ACHS girls golf team (he had been informed of this by coach Saylor. Who may or may not have been told this by me)? Erika had taken some lessons a few years back. However, had never played any organized golf or played an actual round of golf. Erika reluctantly said “yes” and figured she would give it try. Up until then the ACHS girls golf team was a team of one. However, that one girl was Sarah Chang. Sarah was a phenomenal golfer that went undefeated in match play for all four years at ACHS. Over the period of about 7 days there were a few more young ladies that joined the team and now the ACHS girls golf team was complete.
I was able to attend more of the early practices than I was with boys’ team in the Spring. It did not take long before coach Saylor asked if I was interested in being his assistant coach for the girls’ golf team. I told him that I had never coached golf and was an average golfer at best. He laughed and told me that he could see that I enjoyed helping and that he had seen me working with Erika and the others over that first week of practice. I had only been working to keep their confidence up as they were all new to the game. Jim then asked me if I would like to be the boys golf assistant coach and I accepted. I remained Jim’s assistant coach until the Spring of 2017. Jim is still coaching at ACHS and helping the Kids 4 Golf program on a regular basis.
Now that I have laid the background for our story. Here is how it began to take shape....
In the Spring of 2013 Jim asked me if I would be interested in being his assistant for the boys’ golf team as well and I accepted. During that season I noticed that local high schools were forfeiting entire seasons because they could not field a team of 6 players. This would cause entire league schedules to be changed along with taking valuable golf rounds away from the other teams in the league. Then comes the Fall of 2013 and I begin to notice the same thing with the girl’s teams. Some of the local high schools simply cannot field a six-player team. This was almost unbelievable to me and I began to investigate as to why.
I spoke with local parents, coaches, PGA professionals, golf course general managers and found that everyone had their own ideas as to why this was. I heard everything from socio-economic issues to lack of interest due to lack of promotion & exposure to the sport of golf. I even heard the comment "Well, you know it is considered a country club sport" more than you would believe.
After all of the conversations and countless hours of research into junior golf. It became clear to me that junior golf was not being promoted locally on a consistent basis. When it is, it is typically an afterthought for many in the industry. I then came up with a plan up to increase the visibility of junior golf to local youth.
In 2015, I was able to put this plan into motion and I founded Parent Advocates 4 Youth Sports (a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization) and the Kids 4 Golf junior golf program. My focus from day one has been to promote the game of golf to Solano & Napa county youth to the best of my ability and try to remove the "it's a country club sport" stigma.
It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Kids 4 Golf over the first 5 years. However, we have persevered and even made it through, what we hope is the worst of, the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest reason we have been able to continue has been due to the support of the parents & players that have taken a chance on a small organization that is focused on junior golf, the growth of the sport and working with each junior golfer to reach THEIR next level. Whatever THEIR next level may be.
Thank you for taking time to learn a little bit about Kids 4 Golf. I look forward to seeing you all on the golf course!
Eric “Coach” Hallmark