The golf course at Carolina Crossing has seen a different clientele on Sundays for the past few months.
Sherman Porterfield, who runs Operation Help One Another, a nonprofit that helps educate and mentor young people, is teaching a group of youngsters to play the so-called "gentleman's sport."
Why? Because exposing the kids to a sport like golf, which is often reserved for the upper cusp of society, can help them dream bigger and achieve their full potential, Porterfield said.
"All of these kids come from homes that don't have the privileges of going out to play golf, or tennis or soccer," he said. "We have all of these wonderful resources available, but because of the location where they live at and because of their family settings, we have kids that are unable to reach them."
So, every Sunday, Porterfield takes the kids to play golf. Transportation and equipment are free, and participants have to show up in proper attire.
"Golfing seems like a dress-up sport," said Kendall Walker, a 14-year-old getting ready to start high school.
Walker said he usually plays football, but he was excited to try a sport he hadn't played before.
"On the football field, you're real aggressive, but golfing you've got to be real calm and focused," he said.
Walker is one of more than 30 kids and teens who will get a chance to play in a youth golf tournament July 12.
Porterfield is trying to raise about $10,000 more to pay for the weekly trips to Carolina Crossing and the tournament, which will include a $500 scholarship for the winner. The money covers transportation to and from the golf course, golf shirts and shoes, clubs, lunches and fees.
The event targets kids who are deemed at-risk because they might live in a low-income neighborhood, be in single-parent homes or other reasons. But Porterfield said since the group has been learning golf, he has seen their confidence and self esteem improve. They stand up straight and see dreams of being like Tiger Woods as more of a reality, he said.
"When we talk about a young African-American girl or a young African-American boy, or a Latino girl or boy ... developing how and what to do with a golf club, learning the principle of the game itself, then on top of that going out and stepping on the greenery ... it has just been life changing," Porterfield said.
Miquala Eloby, whose son Jaylen has been learning to play, said it's given him a chance to do something out of the norm.
"I just want him to experience different things, not just when we go out together, but when he goes out on his own," she said.
Twelve-year-old Jaylen said, "Golf seemed like a good sport, and I wanted to learn how to do new things."
Operation Help One Another is hosting a free golf tournament for youths ages 10 to 18 who are deemed at-risk. For more information or to sign your child up, call Sherman Porterfield at 980-4357 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operation Help One Another is trying to raise about $10,000 to teach so-called at-risk youth to play golf and compete in a golf tournament. To help them reach their goal, send checks to Operation Help One Another with "golf tournament" in the memo line to:
Operation Help One Another P.O. Box 37371 Rock Hill, SC 29732
For more information visit www.operationhelponeanother.org