The Next Generation of Golfers

Joni Dye's The First Tee teaches young golfers the links

In the summer of 2003, Joni Dye noticed her grandchildren were spending far too much time inside the house—and she decided to take action. As president of the Yahara Hills Golf Association, she approached the board of directors about starting a golf program for kids. They were so intrigued by the idea, they agreed to give Dye the seed money to start the Madison Metro Youth Golf Initiative.

But first she had to overcome the stigma that golf is an expensive sport. So Dye used her vacation time from work to mentor young golfers and organize youth lessons and tee times two days a week. Over the years, she has built partnerships between the city of Madison and the Boys & Girls Club, the East Madison Community Center and various golfing groups around the city. In 2007, Dye took five youths to Scotland on scholarships provided by New Links St. Andrews, a foundation dedicated to making life-changing experiences for less privileged children through international travel, education and the game of golf. By the time she retired from her job as a pro se case analyst for the United States District Court in 2009, Dye had grown the program to two hundred kids.

“The rules of golf teach problem solving, confidence and courtesy,” says Dye. “It helps you become a better person.”

In 2010, Dye became the executive director of The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin (the new name of the organization). In March of this year, The First Tee became a full-fledged chapter serving almost four hundred youths with Monona Golf Course as its home base, and Nine Springs as a satellite location. Thanks to strong supporters such as American Family Insurance and the Gordon Flesch Company, The First Tee now offers scholarships, an honor roll program and a charity golf outing held this month.

THE VITALS

• Madison native
• Vice chair, City of Madison Parks Commission, Golf Subcommittee
• Member, Financial Development Committee, YMCA of Dane County

The Breakdown

GREAT NEWS
The Capital City Hues newspaper celebrates its fifth anniversary this month. The publishing business is a labor of love and intense dedication to the craft and the issues for publisher and editor Jonathan Gramling and his contributors, who provide positive, relevant and informative news and viewpoints concerning people of color in the greater Madison community. Congratulations!

REACHING OUT
A shout-out to Michael Johnson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Kaleem Caire, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison and a host of volunteers and corporate partners for helping with tornado relief efforts in Joplin, Missouri. When faced with adversity, it’s always nice to know that someone’s got your back, even if they’re strangers.

IDENTITY ISSUES
Wisconsin Voter ID was officially signed into law recently. Supporters say it will help to eliminate fraudulent votes, while the opposition claims it will disenfranchise voters. We’ll have to wait and see on the latter, but the question is: Will it fix perceived problems in the voting system, or will it create new ones?

Derrell Connor hosts “Outreach” on NewsTalk 1310 WIBA, pens a column for Channel 3000 and freelances for Madison Magazine.

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