I support the caddie program at the Jackson Park Golf Course

To the Editor:

As an African-American female golfer for 20+ years and a retired educator, I am extremely delighted to support the Caddie Program at the Jackson Park Golf Course. I respectfully address skepticism published in a prior letter to the Hyde Park Herald on September 6, 2017. The letter questioned: “Do you really think, realistically, even for a minute, that the young caddie program that the PGA planners are touting will really help large numbers of our Southeast Side youth?”

Frankly, if it helps one African-American youth–one youth at a time–the program is being successful. These aspiring youth of our future need more male and female African-American role models. Caddying gives these African-American children the opportunity to experience a better view of sports (golf) they may not otherwise be exposed to. I wish someone had thought of this program sooner! Thanks to the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, Western Golf Association and First Tee of Greater Chicago for this wonderful program. You did a phenomenal job in training the caddies. It was reflected in their performance and growing confidence around the golf course this summer.

Most importantly, thank you to all the caddies who admirably embraced the challenge of their first ever summer jobs. You made this golf season more enjoyable for me and my playing partners in the Women of Jackson Park Golf Club. Your eager service made us feel like tour pros while walking the fairways (even if our scorecards reminded us otherwise). We pledge to support you both on and off the golf course, and encourage you to continue this path that could even lead to college scholarships.

Judy Ann McNeil-Thomas