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Driving Diversity: The National Links Trust Aims To Tee Up Black Youth’s Interest in Golf

The nonprofit organization is inviting the Black youth of Washington, D.C. to hit the links.

The National Links Trust is attempting to change two narratives with one initiative. Amid the much publicized youth crime wave in the nation’s capital, the nonprofit organization is inviting the Black youth of Washington, D.C., onto golf courses.

David Daniels, director of Community Engagement for the organization, told the Huffington Post, “Golf is a [$101.7 billion] industry. And there have always been barriers to entry for Black and brown people. We want to introduce minorities to the game, but also show them how they can have careers in this space.”

Daniels provided examples: “Golf architects, landscaping, club manufacturing.”

Daniels also recruits for the Jack Vardeman Workforce Development Program, a program whose aims dovetail with those of the National Links Trust. At Jack Vardeman, local youth are provided with an opportunity to learn practical skills, job training, income, and scholarships. During the summer months, at Langston Golf Course, students are instructed on the finer points of what it takes to make a course run, including merchandising and agronomy (the science of soil and crop management).

As part of The National Links Trust program, one golfer was chosen to attend a tournament hosted by Tiger Woods, who played a round with the young golfer.

Divine King, 18, who has participated in the program since he was 16, says that the program has helped him grow as a person.

“I learned the business of golf, how to conduct business outside of golf and how to operate the cash register as well,” King said. “[It showed me] the importance of getting to a job on time, and it also gave me the opportunity to also make money.”

His mother, Tanisha King, also credits the program with boosting his confidence. “It’s given him more drive and determination to go after his goals—the fact that he applied to Howard, I didn’t know he had applied to Howard,” she said.

“Being out on the golf course can assist a lot of these children, and allow them to focus on other things,” King added. “Golf is not a common sport amongst Black and brown kids. And the safe, peaceful environment is definitely a step outside of the norm from what many are experiencing. I think that’s what’s missing for a lot of kids in D.C.”

Langston is considered one of the birthplaces of the sport for Black people, particularly in the D.C area. Langston, which opened in 1939, was one of only 20 public courses that allowed Black people to play. As advocates pushed for equal access to all-white courses in Washington, Black celebrities, like world champion boxer Joe Louis, made a point to play at Langston, elevating the course’s profile.

Over the years, the course has faded and is in need of repairs. In 2020, along with two other courses, the National Links Trust took over operations at Langston in the hopes of rejuvenating the courses.

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