Nathan was seven years old when he watched the Netflix movie “The Short Game”. He had been to the range with his father and grandfather before, but after watching the young golfers in the movie, he was immediately inspired and his passion for golf was ignited.
“I was inspired by the drive the kids had.”
Nathan’s family wanted to help him grow his new found passion, but were unsure where to start as the world of golf was relatively foreign to them. They started Nathan in a golf clinic at a nearby public golf course and signed him up for a local Junior PGA League. Nathan was the youngest player on the team, which allowed him the benefit of meeting some older players and learning about other opportunities such as Drive Chip and Putt, US Kids Maryland Junior Golf and the MAPGA Tour.
“He had never really played golf before,” says Suzi Eldridge, Nathan’s Mother. “It was a new thing for him, so when he worked with some of the older kids they were super supportive and cheering him on and encouraging him and he looked at them as role models. Now as an almost teenager, he is able to look at some of the younger players on his PGA team and he does the same for them.”
Becoming more involved in the local golf community, Nathan and his family began to notice that his peers all belonged to golf clubs and practiced daily, something that Suzi says was out of reach for their family.
“Every Saturday Nathan would say, “can we go play golf somewhere?” and we’d look and everything would be $40, and as a middle-class family that’s a lot to spend frequently.”
Unwilling to give up on finding affordable access to golf, Nathan’s family started to do some research and came across the YOC website. “We couldn’t believe some of the courses that Nathan could play for only $5”, says Suzi. “[Youth on Course] levels the playing field. Since joining, Nathan has had the opportunity to play on a regular basis and challenge himself. His game has improved because of the access that YOC provides. It’s been great for his game and his confidence. We’re very grateful that [YOC] exists.”
“I am getting really good practice at really good courses. The fact that I can do that almost every day is really great” says Nathan.
Suzi feels that being able to practice as much as he wants has helped Nathan gain confidence on the golf course, and has also helped his confidence tremendously off of the golf course as well.
“He’s got a unique sport he plays and when he goes to school where not a lot of kids play golf, he knows that he’s accomplished something that the other kids haven’t and he feels good about himself.”
With access to more practice, Nathan was on fire winning Maryland Junior Tours, NCJG Tours and placing in the top 5 each year with US Kids Golf. During this time, the US Kids Golf Tour Director who had a big impact on Nathan, had been diagnosed with cancer. Nathan helped organize a fundraiser with his peers to raise money to help cover some of his medical costs.
“Me and the whole rest of the local tour made a big video telling him thank you for helping us and supporting us. It made me feel great.”
One of Nathan’s biggest goals and visions for the sport is to get kids more excited about trying golf, and to do his best to help “keep the game alive”. He has been mentoring younger golfers in his area and has enjoyed introducing them to the game.
“I taught a few younger kids how to play golf. I gave them lessons a few times a month. Just teaching them how to play golf makes me feel good. I want more competition [for the future] and to grow the game. I feel like some kids have a stereotypical view of golf, that it’s only white men, and they think ‘since I’m not an old white man I’m not going to play’. I have a long-term goal of keeping the game of golf more alive than ever and helping young people play the game and learn about it.”