By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
A Commerce citizen wants to give underprivileged children in Commerce the same chance he was given when he was a kid: a chance to play the greatest game ever played.
Johnny White, who is known around Commerce as Johnny “Guitar,” is bringing the First Tee Program to the city.
The First Tee Program was founded by the PGA in 1997 to help teach children the values inherent in the game of golf.
“We teach them the core values in golf,” he said. “We want to show them there is something different in life.”
Some of the values White said golf teaches are morals, because you keep your own score; respect, because you have to be silent while the other person is playing; and graciousness, because White said that more often than not you’re going to lose a game.
White is coming back to golf after a 25-year stint in the recording industry. He said it was time to turn his attention toward the betterment of the community.
“I was born and raised here,” he said about his time growing up as a sharecropper just outside of Commerce. “Fortunately enough when I was a kid I had someone who took me to play golf.”
The program will host three free classes during June, July and August of this year. All three classes are free and transportation will be provided for the kids, but there is a limit of 20 people per class.
“If they stay with the program they get a set of used clubs upon graduation,” he said. “Hopefully they will stick around and continue to play when they get into high school golf so they can play for the school.”
Along with the free clubs, each class will be able to golf free one time at the Sand Hills Country Club just outside of Commerce.
After graduating from the First Tee Program, kids will be able to sign up for the Commerce Junior Golf Program. With that program, kids will have to get their parents to drive them to the golf course and pay the green fees.
For more information on the program, or to sign up, call 903-246-3094.