How Education First Golf Creates Opportunities for Wilmington’s Youth
5 May 2022
Education First Golf, LLC, is a Wilmington, Delaware, nonprofit working to elevate opportunities for local youth by teaching life skills through golf. According to David Ross, Executive Director and Founder of Education First Golf, there is a strong connection between the skills needed for golf and life: integrity, patience, perseverance, initiative, and responsibility. “We started Education First Golf to give youth in underserved communities some of the same opportunities their affluent counterparts enjoy. We believe our skill training will equip our youth for success.”
“Our Youth Development Program includes soft skill and communication skills training,” said Ross. “The golf instruction includes golf swing, history of golf, and careers in golf. Our mission is to provide the necessary tools for success to our participants.”
Eight- to ten-week after-school programs are available for students ages 8–17 years old. The programs culminate in a visit to the Ed Oliver Golf Club to play a few rounds and tour the facility.
“Education First Golf was launched in June 2019. By collaborating with youth programs in Wilmington, we were able to enroll 170 youths,” said Ross. “We've had the pleasure of serving over 275 participants through 2021 and counting.”
“There have always been golf opportunities in Wilmington; however, there's been no opportunities for youth in underserved communities. Golf is a very costly sport: having to purchase clubs, lessons, and the cost to play. We provide clubs, lessons, and greens fees. All participants can play 18 holes of golf for $5.00 at participating golf courses provided by our partner, Youth On Course. We are trying to level the playing field as much as we can.”
Ross held a Black History event this past February at the Education First Golf Academy and Learning Center, 613 W 8th Street, Wilmington DE. Councilwoman Michelle Harlee - 4th District and State Representative Sherry Dorsey Walker were in attendance.
“It was an afternoon of fun where we covered the contributions African Americans have made in golf,” said Ross. “We discussed Mr. John Shippen, the first African American golf professional, Mr. Lee Elder, the first African American to play in The Masters Tournament, Mr. Calvin Pete, who won 11 times on the PGA tour — more than any other African American prior to Tiger Woods, and Mr. Charles Sifford who was the first to play a PGA event after PGA lifted the White Only Clause in1961.”
Ross is sharing his 60-plus years of golf experience to inspire Wilmington youth to do better by being better students and people. “The first time I saw a golf swing was at a playground in Augusta, Georgia, when I was eight years old on summer vacation from where I lived in Washington, D.C.,” said Ross. “My uncle took me for a ride on his bicycle, and once we arrived at Robert Blunt playground, my uncle and his friend started hitting golf balls.”
“I taught myself how to swing by watching the Shell Wonderful World Of Golf on TV,” said Ross. “By the age of 10, I was playing golf with a classmate at Langston Golf Course in Washington D.C. My classmate's dad was a member of the Royal Golf Club, the oldest African American men’s golf club in the country. Mr. John Shippen was an original member. We played as junior Royals, and decades later, I was elected president of the club and became the longest-running president in club history. I've been playing for six decades. I've traveled to many countries to play and have been a participant in the golf community for a long time. It's my time to give back.”
Supporters of Education First Golf include, but are not limited to:
The Mayor's Office | Councilwoman Harlee - 4th District | Wilmington Office of Economic Development | County Executive Matt Meyer | City Of Wilmington | State Representative Sherry Dorsey Walker (D) RD3 | Neighborhood House Southbridge | Delaware Health and Social Services | Wilmington Urban League | Bob Norris of Delaware First Tee | The USGA | Catherine Dean, a long time golfer and community leader | Rev. Patty Downing | Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Christine Jones | Mr. Tim Desmond | Delaware Futures | Ed Oliver Golf Course | The Del Castle Driving Range and its staff.