NAPERVILLE - Aiming to prove golf is not exclusive, a program called Youth on Course is providing opportunities for students to learn the game and teeing them up for future success.
"Coming from a parent that is an immigrant and fought their way over here to get their child something they couldn’t get when they were kids, that’s something, it’s that motivation, it’s that drive," said Naperville teen Leland Pan.
Like many of us, Pan has experienced the highs and lows of the game of golf, but it’s the relationships, lessons and experiences she’s earned along the way that stand out.
"Golf is really about the people and what you learn from them. How are you able to find your mental strength and find your momentum and find your groove," she said.
At the start of her high school career, Pan discovered Youth on Course, a program that aims to help young people grow both on and off the course, through internships, scholarships and an inclusive, affordable way to golf -- all while helping drive success.
"Being able to communicate and have this leadership style and develop that all stemmed from my experience from golf and how Youth on Course has played a pivotal role in that. Coming from a family that doesn’t really have that money to really spare, that was really impactful in really playing a round of golf for $5 dollars, I was like I could do this every day? This is awesome!" she said.
Pan was one of 20 high school graduates in the country to receive a Youth on Course scholarship to help with her next course of life, attending the University of Illinois. Even though she won’t be playing collegiate golf, she’s forever thankful for the sport and program.
"Golf also brings that communication and bringing that community love and even though I am an only child, bringing that love and community like golf, it makes me feel like I have so many brothers and sisters and that’s something I hope every kid has, whether they play golf or not. Youth on Course is on the right track to do what they need to do to provide equity and access to kids who don’t have a lot of money to play at the normal, expensive rate," she said.
Pan plans to study Political Science at the University of Illinois and since the beginning of the scholarship program, Youth on Course members have been awarded $2-million in financial support.