The positive social impact Studebaker Golf Course is making in our community
Studebaker Golf Course is known for its unintimidating, inclusive environment with a modest clubhouse and ready-to-play, no-nonsense greens. The course experience certainly doesn’t lack in quality, which is why generations have grown up playing the course after school, learning the ins and outs of the water hazards and tree-lined fairways. It has welcomed old friends for a quick 9-hole reunion and been the site of a youngsters very first drive.
It’s quite literally a hidden gem in the heart of the south side, nestled between residential streets and Riley High School’s campus. But what many may not see is the incredibly positive impact the course is making on the youth in our community.
The 100-year-old course has been the home of junior golf, a program that has seen five decades of youth grow and mature from the skills they’ve developed through play at Studebaker. It has most recently become home of The First Tee, a national organization promising to deliver a positive impact in the lives of youth through the sport of golf. Jenny Zimmerman, Executive Director of the First Tee-Michiana has seen its impact with her own eyes.
“Throughout our community (and beyond), there are hundreds of successful adults–in dozens of career fields–that learned some of the skills vital to their success by rounding the fairways of Studebaker Golf Course during the summer. I have met many of them, and nearly all attribute important parts of their growth and maturity–as well as some of their lifelong friends–to their time at Studebaker.”
Housed within Studebaker Golf Course, The First Tee-Michiana is taking on that tradition and developing new strategies to introduce the game to a new generation.
Over the last few years since its chapter began locally, the program has seen incredible gains in enrollment and participation. The John & Kathy Postle Center, a newly developed addition to the Studebaker clubhouse that offers a simulator, classroom space and areas for continued learning regardless of the season. According to Zimmerman the center has been a blessing to the community.
“Having a welcoming ‘home’ they can call their own and where First Tee coaches give the kids the opportunity to exercise their own autonomy within the values we learn at First Tee, has been a delight.”
The First Tee may be a national brand, but Zimmerman has a heart for seeing youth in our community thrive in new ways from playing such an inclusive sport.
“There’s a “sweet spot” in golf – the sport is available to people of all body shapes and sizes, athletic abilities and is self-paced for development. Values like sportsmanship, respect, honesty, and perseverance are all seen under this inclusive model.”
It takes one step inside to see why the center has become a staple in the community. Kids can be seen from all walks of life taking on the challenge of the game with patience and grace. A high-five and pat on the back is welcomed and the encouragement between these young people will certainly benefit our future generations to come.
To learn more about the programs offered, follow the First Tee on Facebook (@FirstTeeIndianaMichiana) or go to their website at firstteeindiana.org.
Read more in the Spring/Summer Spark Magazine here.