Access and affordability are barriers for entry to the game of golf. This is true for so many junior golfers that the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation serves. For Change Maker Bill Coates, the struggle for youth to afford playing the game they love is personal.
“My junior golf experience was great, and I wish I could have had more of it,” Coates said. “I didn’t have a lot of financial support as a kid to do things like that. I worked while I was in high school and when it came to golf, I was funding what I could do.”
While playing golf at Mission Viejo High School, Coates was exposed to a level of competition that not many high schoolers are. Mark O’Meara, yes, the Masters Champion, was a teammate of Coates’.
After seeing a recent video featuring O’Meara, Coates says that he was reminded of how much fun he had as a junior golfer and how important that time in his life was for his personal development.
“There are kids who have ability and desire who may not have the financial backing and if you can give back it’s important to do so because they need it more than you do,” Coates said.
Coates is a Change Maker, meaning that he makes an automatic, monthly gift to the Foundation. Because of the support of Change Makers like Coates, no child is ever turned away. Financial aid is available for every program that the Foundation offers.
Last year, more than 21 percent of juniors in the Foundation’s Player & Youth Development program received at least 20 percent financial aid.
As Coates was reminiscing on his best junior golf memories, he realized that winning wasn’t the most important thing, (though he did enjoy watching O’Meara do it) but really it was the lessons of golf that can be carried through life.
Having now carved out a successful business of his own, Coates is dedicated to giving junior golfers the freedom to pursue golf that he didn’t have.
“When it comes to supporting junior golfers in today’s world, sports teach kids a lot, but the only sport that really teaches a number of things on an individual basis is golf,” Coates said. “It’s not a team sport and it teaches you kindness, respect, honesty, courage, sportsmanship… It teaches a young person a lot of things that will go a long way in their life.”
Coates says that his support of the Foundation has brought him joy on his own trips to the course when he sees junior golfers playing and practicing.
“It’s fun to support the kids and when you see them on the range having fun, it makes me smile,” Coates said. “It’s really important to get kids involved in golf and help them along the way. It helps the future.”
Plus, now he has the same bag tag as Mark O’Meara.
If you’d like to join Bill as a Change Maker and receive the same bag tag as Mark O’Meara, click here.