One Grass-Roots Golf Success Story

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Selina Johnson, an African-American Pied Piper for golf in Detroit, says, "I could easily be bitter about some of the experiences I've had in the game, but I choose not to."

Ms. Johnson is clearly too busy and upbeat in running her Hollywood Golf Institute to dwell on past slights ("Hollywood" is her nickname). The institute, begun 17 years ago to give inner-city youngsters a start in golf, is one of numerous grass-roots success stories coming to light as the sport turns its attention to creating opportunities for junior players (see main story). Two years ago, Johnson says she had everyone buzzing when she took 47 young people to watch the Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga.

The institute annually attracts about 1,200 boys and girls, ages 4 to 17, to what Johnson calls a human development program that uses golf as a vehicle. During Saturday and summer sessions, youngsters learn how to play the game and about careers in golf.

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"We have a component with Merrill Lynch," Johnson says. "We travel; we have a charm school; we have a class in communication and conversational English. We deal with credit cards and hotel procedures."

One of the institute's most successful students was her daughter, Jamila, who attended Jackson State University in Mississippi on a golf scholarship, where she was a two-time conference champion.

Johnson's romance with golf began when she took at college golf class at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Youth Golf Groups in the know

The following can provide information about opportunities for young players:

National Alliance for Youth Sports

800-729-2057

Runs Hook A Kid On Golf program and Challenge Golf Leagues.

National Association of Junior Golfers

(561) 691-3871

Organization for 4,000 national and international junior golf programs.

Ladies Professional Golf Association

(904) 274-6200

Conducts Girls Golf Club program with US Golf Association and the Girl Scouts.

Professional Golfers' Association of America

(561) 624-8400

Runs a Golf in Schools Program and Clubs for Kids, among other initiatives.

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