Typically, when people use the term “foresight,” it is to imply that someone has the ability to see the use for something before it becomes wanted or necessary.
Officials from the Rochester District Golf Association, however, hope that the name “ForeSight” becomes synonymous for developing future generations of local golfers, ensuring that the game of golf continues to be the regional phenomenon that it has been – and for years to come – rather than a distant memory.
This year, the RDGA and its support organization – the RDGA Foundation, Inc. – open the THIRD season of the innovative ForeSight Junior Golf Program, believing that it will become the model for which the area’s middle and high school students are introduced to – and learn – the game of golf.
The goal of this program – ForeSight – is for local students
to fall in love with the game, and ultimately, become golfers for life.
“I was blessed, growing up, to be able to hang out at a golf course, playing and practicing all day long, all summer long,” says Tim Vangellow, Executive Director of the RDGA and ForeSight Program Director. “And that is how we want this program to go. That is how kids fall in love with the game, and then play it for life.”
ORIGINS OF ‘FORESIGHT’
In 2009, the late John H. Ryan Sr. sent a letter to the Rochester District Golf Association proposing a new Foundation to support and grow junior golf in Rochester. For the next few years, the idea was discussed, but not acted upon.
It wasn’t until three years later, however, when Jack Fox, then the RDGA President, and Vangellow, who was, at the time, the RDGA’s Administrative Director, had lunch with John and Chuck Ryan to revisit the concept, that the RDGA Foundation Inc. was launched.
The first order of business for the Foundation was to find someone to lead the program. Newly-appointed Foundation Board members quickly found their leader in long-time RDGA Junior Golf Chairman Mike Sorce, who brought his passion and experience to the new endeavor. Since then, Sorce – the only President that the RDGA Foundation, Inc. has known – has helped guide the Foundation through its formative years, supporting junior golf learning and events in the Rochester area, and granting annual scholarships to area college students.
Although the Foundation’s efforts have been successful, officials saw the need to do more. Faced with the many options and distractions of the digital age, today’s students have chosen not to pursue golf the way they have in the past. What’s more, many school districts in the Rochester area, facing budget cutbacks and teacher shortages, have not had the funding to introduce and teach the game to new generations of students.
In the off-season of 2015-16, the need for a new initiative to grow junior golf in Rochester was addressed by the Foundation and the RDGA, resulting in the ForeSight Junior Golf Program. In collaboration with the Monroe County Parks Department (who oversee the three County Parks golf courses at Churchville, Durand Eastman and Genesee Valley Parks), as well as local physical education teachers and golf coaches from schools in Section V, the objective of ForeSight is to give students in the Rochester area the opportunity to play a lot of golf – and hopefully fall in love with the game for a lifetime.
HOW FORESIGHT WORKS
ForeSight works to bring golf to area students through three ways.
First, selected schools in the Rochester area receive golf equipment from the RDGA Foundation Inc. to use in Physical Education classes or Intramurals, which give brand new golfers a chance to try the game.
Second, Phys Ed teachers, golf coaches and Athletic Directors at local schools that offer golf programs, intramural golf and golf teams, help the RDGA and the Foundation select students who show an interest in golf. Those students are then awarded summer-long, unlimited golf passes to the three Monroe County Golf Courses at Genesee Valley, Durand Eastman and Churchville Parks.
Third, at the three County Parks courses, ForeSight Program members receive complimentary lessons in playing the game, etiquette and rules education and opportunities to play in fun and competitive events. Equipment can also be provided by the RDGA Foundation to those participants who need it.
In its first year, the ForeSight Program engaged more than 60 area junior golfers. Last year, ForeSight increased that number to 90 to 100 young people.
This year, it is expected that more than 150 junior golfers will benefit from the ForeSight Program by receiving complimentary summer passes to the golf courses, using donated equipment and participating in the Program’s many playing and learning opportunities. Although most of the spots available for ForeSight consideration each year are filled through the screening of local High School physical education classes where golf is taught as part of the curriculum, some spots remain open due to the expansion of the program this year.
Parents and students throughout the Rochester area who are looking to become more involved in golf – particularly those juniors who have little or no experience in the game – are invited to apply to the RDGA in order to be included in this year’s ForeSight roster. Parents should contact the RDGA at 585-292-5950 for more information about how to apply.
“Opening Day” for ForeSight is planned for Saturday, May 12 at Genesee Valley, with all participants and their families invited. At this event, participants will receive their playing “cards,” as well as lessons on how to participate properly in the program, and at the game of golf.
Additionally, each of the cards issued to students will track the playing and practicing usage of each child – with usage rewards such as free weekend golf instruction camps given for increased participation levels.
“Monroe County and the Monroe County Parks Department have been truly proactive and willing to help grow the game and encourage new young golfers by collaborating in this effort,” Vangellow emphasizes. “I really have to applaud their willingness to help with this program, and it is also very much worth noting that the three County golf courses have improved dramatically under the County Parks Department leadership.”
Administering the Program, along with the RDGA, in working with the ForeSight golfers is PGA Professional David Granata, who was recently hired by the Monroe County Parks Department as the Golf Operations Manager for the three County courses.
Granata, County Parks Golf Course Superintendent Greg Klem and the PGA pros at each of the three County Courses will help to run the clinics, events and tournaments associated with the ForeSight Program in 2018.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Since the RDGA Foundation Inc. and the ForeSight Program are each funded by corporate sponsors and individual donors, this new program is a challenge with a tight budget. New donations and sponsors are needed to ensure the future success of ForeSight – and this is where YOU come in…click on the green box below for more information about how YOU can become an RDGA Foundation donor and support programs like ForeSight in the Rochester area.
“Rochester is one incredible golf city,” says Vangellow. “We are hopeful that our golf community will see the value in what we are doing and will be interested in becoming Sponsors or Donors. The more funding we can raise, the more kids we can enroll into the program.”
The RDGA Foundation hopes to have hundreds of Rochester area young people in the ForeSight program annually in the very near future – the idea being that those young golfers will grow into older golfers who become members and players at area courses and drive the larger golf ecosystem in Rochester.
“We hope that ForeSight will help start many local young people in golf,” Vangellow adds. “We golfers know what a gift that is.”
Our goal is for students to fall in love with the game
…and ultimately, become golfers for life!