Detroiter Lindsey Mason III has taken the sport he loves and used it in a way to help Detroit’s young people. The former golf pro is the Head Pro and Manager at the Belle Isle Driving Range and Practice Center on the island, as well as the Rogell Park Golf Club on Seven Mile and Berg Road. He teaches golf lessons to help Detroit area youth through programs set up by him and local organizations.
“We start teaching students from as young as 3 to adult age,” said Mason, who works with Think Detroit/PAL, the Reggie Mackenzie Foundation, the Next Vision Foundation, and the Mayor’s Time Youth Program. “We teach the basic fundamentals and skills of the game and course management. The basic fundamentals we teach are the swing, full swing, chipping and putting.”
As for course management, Mason and his instructors show students how to select various types of clubs and how to use them on he course.
Mason said there’s more to the lessons than just golf. Life skills are taught, especially to the youth, to keep them pointed in the right direction. The lessons run for eight weeks and are taught twice a week. The cost is very minimal; lessons cost $25 for four sessions, which rounds out to $50 a month.
“The students have the opportunity to receive a certificate after completing the course,” Mason said. “They also have the chance to compete in various tournaments.”
Mason’s golf program has produced several successful golfers such as Shayla Walker, an All-City golfer from Martin Luther King High; and Essence Biggs of Southfield, one of the top amateur golfers in the state. Biggs won two state amateur tournaments last season.
Mason offers lessons for beginners, intermediate and advance students.
The Mayor’s Time Program, an after school program started in 2000, is the most popular of those associated with Mason.
“The first year we started with 50 students,” Mason said. “We now have over 400. Many of them play golf in the Detroit PSL.”
Mason is also the head golf coach of both girls and boys teams at Central High. His Lady Trailblazers had won seven straight PSL girls’ golf crowns until King edged Central for the title this season. The boys this season made to the city championship for the first time under his direction.
Mason feels that PSL golf can improve and be competitive with other high school programs if improvements and adjustments are made.
The Detroit Public Schools need to commit itself to the game for students and coaches, he noted. Also, students should not be allowed to modify rules because they won’t excel in the game of golf.
“For example the student must play the ball as it is,” Mason said. “Students are allowed to move a ball out of a sand trap and position the ball on the fairway. They need to learn how to work the ball out of that situation with a stroke or a chip shot.”
Mason also explained that students – not a spotter – should compile their own scores like other school districts.
“It’s embarrassing for students to win championships without breaking a score of 100 for 18 holes,” he said.
Another shortcoming in the PSL is golf equipment and attire.
“I see students come to a match in anything but golf attire,” Mason said. “I see students wearing gym shoes, flip-flops, blue jeans, jewelry, sagging pants, no belts, cell phones, and pagers. These things shouldn’t be worn or brought to the golf course.
“Students must be required to wear golf attire with golf shoes, and pants need to be pulled up. Kids can afford to buy everything else they want and they can afford to buy golf attire and equipment. There are ways this can be done. At Central, I don’t allow my students to wear anything to the course because I won’t allow it.”
Mason said the Detroit Board of Education needs to provide more funds for varsity golf in order to make the PSL competitive.
“We need more than just $250 per team every season,” he said. “If the Board needs funds or equipment, there’s always Think Detroit/PAL, the PGA, the LPGA and various groups of philanthropy.
“The only way we can compete with schools like Country Day, Cranbook, the Catholic League and suburban schools is that there has to be interest and an investment from the school board.”
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