HOWARD WARD: Taylor, Waters, McGirt Search For Answers
Four of us were sitting at a table on the porch at Little River Farm Golf Resort.
It was Saturday morning with coffee on the table and a sky that was rapidly clouding over.
There were 64 kids on the golf course, and the concern was that adverse weather conditions were going to make playing conditions difficult.
Sitting with me were Marvin Waters, the energetic Little River director of golf; everybody's buddy, Stuart Taylor of Whispering Woods Golf Club; and Curtis McGirt, the man responsible for 64 kids being on the course.
The meeting was the brainchild of Waters, who never quits thinking of ways to better the game. He wanted to talk about ways to make golf better for everyone, especially the youngsters. He thought maybe the four of us could hash things around and come up with something.
The three of them are good at that. Me, I'm not a thinker or a doer. I'm just around to report on things. I don't do anything, I just write about what others do. If anything good comes of that, I'm delighted.
Stuart Taylor is a doer. There are those who would say that Stuart is a talker and they would be right. But the things he has to say are worth listening to.
"The most important thing we can do for kids is to give them a place to play. Look at all those kids in this tournament. That's good. But think of all the ones who aren't playing. These kids, you know they're playing with adults somewhere. Most kids aren't that fortunate. Most of them don't have anyone to take them golfing."
McGirt knows what Taylor is saying is the truth. He raised two boys who loved the game and gave them the opportunity to play. But he did it by joining a golf club and playing with his sons.
"When William was growing up, he didn't have other kids to play golf with," McGirt said. "The nearest other junior golfer was 30 miles away."
So Curtis and William played at PineCrest Country Club in Lumberton and Flagtree Golf Club in Fairmont. And William got good enough to win a scholarship to college and is now playing and winning on the Tarheel Tour, and hoping to return to the PGA Tour Qualifying School.
But William was one of the lucky kids who had someone to supply the support he needed.
"There are a lot of kids who'd love to play and who could be good players if they had the chance," Taylor said. "But not all parents can belong to country clubs or give their kids the financial support they need to play golf. And a lot of kids don't have anyone to take them to the course or to play with them.
"The closest thing we have to that around here is the Moore Buddies. There are some great guys who help kids in that organization, but it's certainly not always golf. There's Vicki DiSantis, who's very active in junior golf and looks after a lot of girls. I'm sure if there was a young girl out there who really wanted to play golf, Vicki would help her find a way.
"But we don't have enough of that. Not enough people and not enough money."
It's not clear which is needed most, money or people. Maybe it's people, because even with money, there has to be someone who cares to make it work.
Waters is one person who wants to help.
"I do everything I can to employ every young kid I can who has an interest in golf and wants to be around the game," he said.
"We use kids, too, Taylor said. "I wish everyone would do more of that."
"Stuart gave me my first lesson," Waters recalled, "in a golf school at Whispering Pines when he was working for Avery Beck."
"We have a lot of pros in this area," Taylor said, "and Marvin is the epitome of what the PGA wishes they were all like.
"A lot of people are doing a lot of good things, but we are Pinehurst, the home of golf. If we can't do it, who can?"
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