MANKATO — In this town, there are organizations that sponsor youth baseball and softball, football and hockey, and just about every other sport.
But golf? Nope.
Maybe in the future, there will be a local organization that can raise money to improve the offseason experience and benefit young golfers in Mankato.
That's the hope of a few local golfers.
Josh Blackman, an accomplished amateur golfer who played at Mankato West and has a son Sam who will be a senior with the Scarlets, is among the group who is interested in getting this organization started.
"Golf is a pretty expensive sport," he said. "A lot of kids aren't members (of golf courses) so it would be nice if we could raise some money so they can practice and play and have access to equipment."
The organization's first event is a golf tournament Aug. 13 at the Mankato Golf Club. There are still openings for interested golfers, as well as sponsors. All proceeds will go directly to benefit young golfers in the Mankato school systems, whose high-school season lasts only two months.
The first objective of this group is to provide each of the boys and girls programs at Mankato East and Mankato West with $1,000 worth of summer credit at North Links Golf Course, which has agreed to provide reduced prices for greens fees and driving-range passes. The next step is to raise enough money to establish a winter golf program for East and West kids at Tee 2 Green, where the golf simulator would be available on a set schedule at a reduced rate.
If all goes well, a "Mankato Area Youth Golf Association" will be established, along the same lines as the local baseball or softball associations. MAYGA doesn't really roll off the tongue, but MAGFA or MAYBA probably didn't sound that cool right away.
The golf association has enlisted the help of another charity, the Harvey Andersen Memorial Ski Team Foundation, for short-term help, allowing a portion of this year's tournament fee to be tax-deductible.
At some point, the organization hopes to involve Terrace View Golf Course and Minneopa Golf Club. Perhaps one day, there will be enough money in the bank to pay for some golf outings for the kids. In the future, maybe there can be other revenue streams for the organization to use.
But the biggest goal is to improve the experience and quality of the city's young golfers and keep them working on their games year-round.
This community is blessed with several outstanding youth sports organizations that provide countless dollars and hours of support to aspiring athletes. A golf association seems like a logical step for that sport, which has produced some talented local golfers over the years, many of whom still play around here.
Golf is not an inexpensive sport so anything that helps the kids hit it straighter, make more putts and enjoy their time on the course is a worthy idea. The upcoming tournament is a good start.
Blackman benefited from a strong program at West, and he's hoping that the tradition can be solidified at both schools well into the future.
"I used to spend every day (at Mankato Golf Club) playing," he said. "You just don't see that as much anymore. Kids play golf during the high-school season, then they don't play much anymore. I think we can help."
Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at email@example.com, check out his local sports blog at www.mankatofreepress.com or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.