KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Central Middle/High School head golf coach Joe Kirk has been involved in the game of golf for 35 years. In his time, he’s never seen Kansas City, Missouri Public Schools field a golf team. He was determined to change that. 

“This is something that’s been coming for about 10 years,” he said. “To where we could go into the high schools and introduce the game of golf to the kids. “There were times where I didn’t think that we would, but by the grace of God we did.”

With some donations, help from the First Tee and many others, Central Middle School got the nod: the first to start in Kansas City’s Public Schools.

“Golf teaches you things that children need now,” he said. “Children need to know about integrity, honesty, responsibility and golf teaches this. So, our aim is to try and make a productive citizen.”

Kirk said it’s been a humble beginning.

“They couldn’t tell you a hockey stick from a golf club,” he said.

“At school one day they were saying something over the intercom, I joined after a week of thinking about it,” golfer Melvin Griffin said.

“I like playing golf mainly because it gets me out of the house,” golfer Maliya Campbell said.

Hence why the program isn’t going to be competitive this year as they learn more about the game. But, as Kirk and his staff continue to teach the game they love, they hope the students grow learn to love it too.

“I can see Golf helping me in other sports and how much force and how much patience I need in a game,” Griffin said.

“As we get these types of programs into motion, introducing it to the city, to the children, we expect and we know it will help grow the game,” Kirk said.

Central is just the first. The hope is all the public schools in the city can participate.