One thing about Rick Grayson – he’s not afraid to be the first to step into the tee box.
The 35-year PGA golf pro and instructor at Rivercut Golf Course has launched multiple golf programs and co-created a foundation to promote junior golf.
Grayson and fellow PGA pro Dorl Sweet founded the Heart of the Ozarks Junior Golf Foundation in 2002 and, since, it’s raised $2 million and built a junior course for kids to play for free.
“The foundation has provided access to children that don’t normally have the funds or means to play a lifetime sport, like golf,” he says. “The foundation has provided clubs – over 200 sets – balls, shoes, lessons and scholarships to attend college.”
Grayson’s career has been committed to improving the game for the next generation of golfers. In addition to his work as a contract teaching instructor through the Springfield-Greene County Park Board the last 14 years, Grayson has found ways to extend his influence in the game.
In partnership with the foundation, for instance, all elementary schools in the Springfield area can offer golf as part of their physical education curricula. It’s called the Golf N School program.
“Over 10,000 children a year get to experience golf, and for many it is the first time they have ever held a club,” Grayson says.
He says the Kansas City market has adopted it, too, and now has over 100 schools in the area participating, bringing golf experiences to over 100,000 children.
It seems Grayson tees it up, and the participation follows.
Other programs he started are for girls and one for veterans.
“I noticed that girls’ high school golf was declining – fewer girls going out for the teams and a drop off in local tournaments,” he says.
Grayson enrolled Heart of the Ozarks in the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, and now he says it attracts over 800 girls ages 7-17.
“The program is so successful that families plan their summer vacations around the time the program is being offered,” he says. “They don’t want to miss it.”
In 2018, he brought the PGA HOPE program to the Ozarks as a way for disabled veterans to play golf. It stands for Helping Our Patriots Everywhere.
“We have veterans coming to the program that haven’t gotten out of their homes in over a week,” Grayson says. “It is great for the servicemen to meet and join together and spend time on the course.”
The program work has led to a book: “Inspire Junior Golf: The Future of the Game is in Your Hands.”
“I received calls and emails from all over the country and a few from overseas; I decided I would write a book that would assist other professionals with ideas and concepts that would strengthen their junior programs,” Grayson says of his 2012-published book. “The junior golfer is the future of the game and how we treat juniors will make a huge impact on what the game becomes.”
The accolades for his efforts have stacked up: He’s a 2018 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, a Top 100 Instructor by Golf Magazine and named the 2011 PGA of America Junior Golf Leader.
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