Rain, rain, and more rain was all that was in the forecast for Saturday, October 14th in Sugar Grove, but that did not stop the Kids Golf Foundation (KGF) from hosting their annual mentoring event at Rich Harvest Farms. Every year, the Foundation hosts two mentoring events – Other Side Of The Green, for boys, is hosted in the spring and Thinking Outside The Tee Box, for girls, is hosted in the fall. This year, on the other hand, was special. Since Rich Harvest Farms hosted the 2017 Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships this past May, the Foundation decided to combine the two for one big mentoring event!

The event pairs a local Business Professional with one of the Foundation’s Program Participants between the ages of 11 and 17 based on career interest and/or general hobbies. When the weather cooperates, the groups eat lunch, take part in some activity stations to warm up, and then play a 9-hole scramble. The activity stations are led by members of Northern Illinois University’s men’s and women’s golf teams and then each student athlete is put in one of the groups to play in the scramble.

On Saturday, the weather had other plans, forcing the event to be moved inside. But that did not impose any problems as the Foundation had a back-up plan. As Program Participants and Business Professionals checked in, the room filled with excitement. Once everyone was settled in, the meetings began. After the meetings concluded, the Program Participants and Business Professionals lined up to meet each other.

After meeting, everyone took a group photo and lunch was served. While lunch was wrapping up, Kate Lockhart, a Business Professional, spoke to the group about her experiences and how golf has impacted her life. Kate’s story is quite full circle. Golf was not a sport she believed she’d play but lo and behold she fell in love with it. She first started playing at her local KGF program site – South Suburban Home School and Gym Group. Kate was also a Program Participant in the first ever Thinking Outside The Tee Box in 2004. She went on to play golf in college and still, although not as much as she would like, plays recreationally and uses the sport in her career. Golf has taught her so many valuable life skills that she has used both on and off the course. Kate thought it would only be fitting to become a Business Professional and share her story with the participants that were just like her.

Once lunch was over, everyone broke into groups for the different activity stations. The Kids Golf Foundation is very fortunate to call Rich Harvest Farms home especially because there is an indoor arena right on the private estate. The arena not only has a putting clock and chipping green, but also two simulators. Stations were led by members of the men’s and women’s golf teams from NIU. The activity stations were both competitive and fun, but most importantly allowed the mentors and mentees time to really bond. Stations included: longest drive, closest to the pin, mini golf, networking station, and a discussion station. During the networking station, groups learned the importance of making connections and having good communication. The discussion station had a booklet that consisted of questions for the mentees to ask their mentors about their lives and careers. The longest drive and closest to the pin stations were held on the simulators and brought a teamwork aspect to the day because scores were combined. Mini golf was another team competition for the groups in which the scores were combined.

Once each group visited each station, scorecards were turned in and the group reconvened. While the scores were being tallied, the group played IGOLF, a form of bingo created by KGF program site South Suburban Home School and Gym Group. When IGOLF was finished, the winners of the contests were announced and were able to choose a prize from the prize table.

As the event concluded, everyone shared smiles and hugs. Information was exchanged between Business Professionals and Program Participants – a true form of networking. The event truly was a success despite the rain.

The Kids Golf Foundation is always looking for Business Professionals to participate in mentoring events. If you or someone you know is interested in being a part of the experience, please contact the Foundation.