The Amazing [PGA] REACH of Golf at Baltusrol
PGA REACH, the charitable arm of the PGA of America, joined up with KPMG at the 2023 KPMG Women's PGA Championship to present a $50,000 check that will fund two “Opportunity League” teams in a PGA Jr. League in New Jersey. The two teams will be funded at Galloping Hills Golf Course (Clark, N.J.) and First Tee Raritan Valley/Rutgers University Golf Course (Piscataway).
PGA of America President John Lindert and Vice-President Don Rea Jr. were present the check along with Paul Knopp and Laura Newinski of KPMG. The money is earmarked to support as many as 40 junior golfers, providing assistance with program fees, golf course access, transportation, equipment and more.
PGA Jr. League serves boys and girls ages 17 and under, featuring a team format in structured leagues. More than 70,000 youths signed up to take part in PGA Jr. League play last year.
The presentation came on the heels of clinic for PGA Jr. League players conducted by former NCAA Division I individual champion Rachel Heck (Stanford) and Roger Steele, an influencer and golfer from Chicago whose mission is to help bring more diversity to the game.
“The thing that I’m most excited about,” Steele said, “is that everyone is getting a seat at the table to decide what golf is going to look like. As we spend this time with the kids, it’s empowering them to say ‘Hey, this is your game. What do you want to see out of it?’
“And encouraging them to say, ‘Just because golf looked like this yesterday, I can make it how I want it to look tomorrow. Whether you’re a minority, from an under-represented community, or a woman looking to get into the sport, maybe play professionally, work in the industry, there’s an abundance of opportunities now to come in and really determine what golf is going to look like in the future.”
Heck, who won the 2021 NCAA Div. 1 individual championship while at Stanford, is returning slowly from missing time after having a rib removed. She was second alternate at a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier earlier this week and plans to play the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August. Prior to that, she will be at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama to begin training for the Air Force Reserves. Only 21, she is a rising senior at Stanford, and not far removed from the little kids she taught.
Said Heck after wrapping up her clinic, “Honestly, I probably had a better time than they did today. I see myself in them, and see my friends, and I see my sisters when we were all-super-little and getting into the game, going to clinics like this and meeting a player that I’d look up to.
“It’s special, and it’s so cool just to see the love of golf on their faces. A few came up to me after, and they said all they want to do is go play golf. It’s heartwarming.”
With that, she was off to watch her close friend and teammate, Rose Zhang.