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story.lead_photo.caption El Dorado High School student Landon Vinson looks out onto the green as he finishes a golf swing during class at the El Dorado Golf & Country Club. Brittany Williams/News-Times - Photo by Brittany Williams/News-Times / Brittany Williams

Youth sporting organization KidsNGolf and the El Dorado School District have collaborated to provide golf as a new elective for students in grades 7-12.

While sports like football, basketball and baseball are more popular in the area, KidsNGolf Executive Director Art Noyes said the “inclusive sport” is self-paced and appeals to players regardless of their level of athleticism.

“For some reason, we still continue to do what they do in most cities — push baseball, basketball, football, soccer, those sports. Whereas, their shelf life is small. A limited number of kids make those teams so a lot of kids end up feeling like, ‘Well, I guess I’m not cut out for sports. I don’t make the grade,’” he said. “In golf everyone can play. It’s not a collision, confrontation or reactive sport. The ball is there and you make an athletic move when you’re ready … If you hit a bad shot, you can’t blame your short stop.”

After reaching out to school district and El Dorado Golf & Country Club administrators, both entities “bought in” and partnered to provide the class for Barton Junior High and El Dorado High School students.

“When I first proposed this to them six (or) seven months ago, (they) thought it was a great idea. They love to see kids doing something, passionate about something,” Noyes said. “El Dorado Country Club has realized that if they’re going to be in business, they have to reach out to the community and willing to create a different culture inside. They got a hold of me back in January and said, ‘Art, we want you to get kids in our country club. We want kids on the golf course.’”

In a press release provided by the organization El Dorado School District Superintendent Jim Tucker said, “This will be an excellent addition to our junior high and high school curriculum … and I believe its benefits will go far beyond the golf course.”

The elective will learn golf history, fundamentals and “transferable daily life skills and disciplines” during the class period, Noyes said.

“We’re going to be having two days a week where we actually work on the golf swing, golf game, putting, chipping, all of that. One of the days we’re going to talk a little about … the life skills, the soft skills that support golf,” Noyes said. “We feel like they transfer into life. If you learn to play golf you learn to be patient, rely on yourself, be dependable (and) be on time … We’re also going to teach some of the history behind golf — some of the origins from Europe, how it came to the United States (and) how it’s broken some barriers.”

The elective’s curriculum, affectionately named the Crawford-Howard-Love Junior Golf School, is named after three golfers from El Dorado — Richard Crawford, Jimmy Howard and Davis Love, Jr.

Crawford and Love played junior golf at the country club and eventually played on the PGA Tour in the mid 1960s and 1970s. Howard, an African American and former country club caddie, was initially barred from playing at local clubs and professionally.

“All three of these guys, Jimmy Howard especially, the reason they taught golf to kids is because it teaches life skills,” Noyes said. “They learn to play golf, but they also learn character and integrity. They learn how to be the kind that is successful in this endeavor, but the same qualities that make you successful as a golfer make you successful in life. Work hard, don’t quit, develop confidence in yourself.”

Regardless of what school a student goes to in the county, any young prospective golfer can join KidsNGolf, he said.

“When we have kids that enjoy what we’re doing, their parents and their grandparents will notice it … Our parents now here in El Dorado they know that they’re kids come out and play golf. We love them. We care about them,” Noyes said.

Parents and youth interested in joining KidsNGolf are asked to call 870-299-0192 or go to for more information.

Brittany Williams may be reached at 870-862-6611 or Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook @BWilliamsEDNT for updates on Union County school news.

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