The Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois (KGF) recently held their 12th annual girls mentoring event “Thinking Outside The Tee Box.” Saturday, October 10, 2015, was a picturesque fall day at Rich Harvest Farms, home of KGF. This event gives junior golfers, ages 11-17, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a 9-hole scramble with a Business Professional that shares similar career interest and/or hobbies.

Bernita Echols, one of KGF’s Site Coordinators, believes that this experience is “more than kids can even imagine it to be.” Player Participants were nominated by their Site Coordinators to partake based on their exceptional character and performance on and off the golf course. Business Professionals were paired based on their complimentary career interests or hobbies with Player Participants.

The event kicked off with revealing the Business Professional and Player Participant pairings, which is kept secret until the day of the event. After the mentors met their mentees, each pair headed out to the activity stations which featured a business/life skill paired with a golf skill. The activity stations were lead by Student-Athletes from Northern Illinois University (NIU) and Aurora University (AU). Not only did the Student-Athletes lead the activity stations, but they also participated in the scramble to provide additional mentorship and guidance. Player Participant, Leah Mondesir, said she “enjoyed having the university players because of their encouragement and helpful tips.”

NIU golfer, Evelyn Brand explained that this mentoring event was a “great opportunity to give back to the game of golf because [the game] has provided her and her team with so many opportunities.”

As the groups drove away to begin their round, there was a positive energy in the air and the enthusiasm level was high. Diane Nehring, a Business Professional, was “absolutely thrilled by the great team effort by the entire group. Everyone worked hard to stay together and encouraged one another.”

It was evident that all of the groups shared a special bond by discussing future career choices, hobbies, and life experiences. The mentorship coming from both the Business Professionals and Student-Athletes truly created a comfortable atmosphere for the Player Participants.

On the course, the groups showed exceptional golf etiquette and really took their game seriously while still having fun. “Overall this event was a great day,” said Kara Smith, AU Golfer, adding that the “young golfers not only received great golf experience, but also learned valuable communication skills when playing the game.”

After the scramble, everyone gathered in the Harvest Lodge for lunch and reflected on the day. Based on the conversation level, smiles, and hugs being shared, it was obvious that everyone had an amazing experience on the course. Business Professional, Kaitlyn Doe, said that “it was great to look full circle and see youth getting into golf how I did by participating in youth golf programs.”

Player Participants and Business Professionals were presented with a framed group photo to commemorate their involvement and to remember their time spent at Rich Harvest Farms.

Everyone who attended helped make this an extremely memorable day. The purpose of this mentoring event is not only to empower young women, but to help them use golf as a vehicle for career enhancement. Addison Bolden, Player Participant said that the number one thing she learned from today was to “not give up”- something the Kids Golf Foundation wants all Program Participants to live by!

The boys mentoring event, Other Side Of The Green, will take place May 2016. The Kids Golf Foundation always encourages interested Business Professionals to get involved by submitting an application to mentor a youth participant. For more information on the mentoring events or other Kids Golf Foundation programs, contact the Foundation either via email or by phone at (630) 466-0913.