For the second year in a row, a group of our high school students spent a week working, playing, and learning at our Foundation’s namesake club in the Hamptons.
The trip was for students participating in Youth Works, our summer workforce development program that provides eight-week paid internships. Grounded in research and best practices, this program teaches core employability skills such as communication, professionalism and critical thinking while giving our students the opportunity to apply these skills as employees and preparing them for future success in the workplace and college.
On Monday morning, July 30, students and staff members loaded into a van and made the trek to Bridgehampton. Nine of our rising 10th and 11th graders were joined by four staffers for the week: Co-Founder and Executive Director Farrell Evans, Program Director Jeffrey Cowitt, Teaching Professional Brian Hwang, and PGA Golf Management Intern Jacinth Thomas. Associate Executive Director Jeffrey Booker came out on Friday.
Their first stop on Monday was The Bridge for a golf clinic with Hwang and Thomas. Afterward, they left to check into their digs for the week, the unique and beautiful home of AC Hudgins, a collector of African-American art and a great friend of the Foundation. With lots of beds, a pool surrounded by flowers, views of the Peconic Bay and kayaks to explore it, they could not ask for a better home base. Foundation Co-Founder Bob Rubin and his wife, Stéphane Samuel, who is also a Foundation board member, joined them for a cookout on Monday night.
After dinner and a relaxing night at the house, it was time to get to work at dawn. Every day of the week started with a 5 a.m. wake-up call, a 5:15 trip to the club, and a 5:30 start to their work day. On Tuesday and Thursday, they joined Course Superintendent Gregg Stanley and his crew for their morning rounds, setting pin positions and monitoring green conditions, including taking Stimpmeter readings and using digital instruments to check soil moisture and electrical conductivity. They gathered data and learned how Stanley and his team use it to make crucial decisions about water usage on the course.
On the other days they worked with the food and beverage team, in the pro shop and locker room, and with the world-class caddie crew at the club. They got a taste of nearly every part of the operation during their shifts, which ended at noon and were followed by lunch and golf.
In the afternoons, they worked on their games and played the course. As part of our new College Roadmap program, Hwang also led sessions on college life, scholarships, and what it’s like to play Division I golf. On Wednesday, Hwang’s former UConn teammate Matt Dubrowski gave a clinic on warming up and preparing for a round.
Every day at 5 p.m., they would head back to the house for hang-out time, which included cookouts, swimming and expeditions into the bay.
One of their most interesting meetings was a Friday lunch with Bridge member Rich Dennis, the founder of Sundial Brands, which makes hair and skin-care products for the African American community and was recently bought by Unilever. Dennis talked to the young men about building his business from scratch, entrepreneurship, and taking ownership of their futures. He was joined by board members Frank Gallipoli and Stuart Downing, and advisory board member John Fizer.
Another great experience for the young men was getting to spend time with the artist Humberto Díaz, who was staying with Hudgins and working on sculptures that will soon join his collection. (Díaz also shot this video.)
Our Foundation is dedicated to giving our young men opportunities through golf, and no experience better exemplifies our mission than their week in the Hamptons. They saw both sides of club life, trying nearly every job the place has to offer while also getting to play the course and interact with businessmen, scientists, artists, and mentors.
This week they are back to their normal routines in Harlem, but the experiences they had on this trip will stay with them for a lifetime.