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Par for the Course!
West Penn Minority Junior Golf
Association celebrates 10-year anniversary

By Smokin' Jim Frazier

The world is constantly in search of good role models. The Golf world is no exception. But in their midst, there is someone special. Robert "Rock" Robinson, founder and President of West Penn Minority Junior Golf Association (WPMJGA), is dedicated, committed, humble role model and he is celebrating his 10th year anniversary.

"Baseball was my first love," said Robinson. "I had three professional tryouts with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Reds. I replaced my love for baseball with Golf over 20 years ago and I have never looked back."

The WPMJGA was officially established in December 1995 and the program has been a vehicle for teaching life lessons, welcoming boys and girls, intern job opportunities, college scholarships and introducing Golf to economically disadvantaged children.

Kids are taught about responsibility, courtesy, how to set goals, how to define those goals, the importance of maintaining a positive attitude as well as the importance of showing respect for others and sportsmanship from the golf course to everyday life.

"Our mission was pretty much to go out and try to get minority kids access to a Golf course," said Robinson. "We weren't readily accepted in the beginning, but we have overcome the disallowance of having us to play golf. Truly, we are now well received because our kids are orderly. Our kids wear uniforms. Navy blue pants with white shirts with our logo. Hats are forward and their shirts are tucked in. Being well manned and well behaved is only one part of what we do."

Today, WPMJGA is a vibrant golf program that has expanded its mission to include acquiring jobs at country club type golf courses. The name of this part of the WPMJGA program is called "GolfWorks".

"GolfWorks" is a program designed to introduce minority youth to the different facets of golf. Young adults are being taught the fundamentals of business, special events, maintenance, catering, and the additional daily operations of major golf courses in the Pittsburgh area.

They play at prestigious golf courses such as the Diamond Run, Country Club, Allegheny Country Club, Oakmont Country Club, Edgewood Country Club, North Park Golf Course, Butler Golf Course, Murrysville Golf Course, Schenley Park Golf Course, Southpointe Golf Club and Birdsfoot Golf Club.

This program places minority youth in paid intern positions and the participants leave this experience with a well-rounded view of how a business of this type is structured.

"Rock" Robinson and Norman Brice, WPMJGA's Director of Golf, are certified by the United States Golf Teachers Federation to teach Golf as Professionals.

"To get your certification you have to go through classroom part on teaching and a playability part," said Robinson. "I believe in Western, Pa we are the only two African-American certified teaching golf professionals."

In 2003, The West Penn Minority Junior Golf Association was selected to host the Tiger Woods Foundation "In the City" Golf Clinic in Wilkinsburg, Pa.

The Tiger Woods Foundation "In the City" Golf Clinic sent 15 WPMJGA junior golfers to participate in the Coca-Cola / Tiger Woods Foundation Junior Golf Clinic at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. The Orlando clinic included tickets to the Disney World theme parks, the junior golf clinic at Disney's Magnolia course, participation in a pitch, putt and drive contest, parties and an exhibition by Tiger Woods at Disney's Palm course.

"Rock" Robinson even allows an Oakland Raider fan to sit on his Board.

"I have been a Raider fan since the early 70's," said Jerry Williams, one of WPMJGA's Board of Directors. "Even before they lost here in Pittsburgh with that funny catch that was made. To see our kids meet and play golf with Tiger Woods was a once in a lifetime experience."

In 2005, "Rock" Robinson was honored to receive the prestigious Jefferson Award for his work instructing children in the game and etiquette of golf and of life, raising college scholarship money for them and finding them job opportunities in the golf industry.

"I don't don this for honor," said Robinson. "I do it for the glory of God and to see our kids pursuing some good things and becoming good citizens."

To "Rock" Robinson, Norman Brice, Jerry Williams and all the men, women and children behind WPMJGA. Here is to another 10-years.

DISCLAIMER: The views in this column are the opinion of the columnist and are not shared or associated with Brotha Ash Productions.


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