December 21, 2011
As a child, Mackenzie Mack learned to play golf through a youth program. But when she arrived in Terre Haute to attend Indiana State University, she was surprised she couldn't find a similar program in the Wabash Valley.
So she decided to do something about it.
Mack co-created Tee It Up, a nonprofit organization that hosts golf clinics teaching kids valuable lessons through the sport's rules and mentoring. Volunteers teach children about golf and other life lessons that are implemented into the clinic's session plan, such as the sport's rules. The group typically hosts weekly clinics, with each session focusing on a different lesson.
"I'd always see kids on the range, when we go to practice," said Mack, who played on ISU's golf team. "There would be so many kids there, but they'd be on their own. There was no junior golf program available for them. I knew that I wanted to start one."
She organized a clinic and quickly received community support. A local golf course volunteered to host the clinic. It didn't take long before it became a recurring event.
"After that first fall, we decided to turn it into an actual nonprofit, incorporating many of the concepts that I learned from the Scott College of Business, which surprised me," said Mack, who graduated from ISU with a bachelor's in marketing and graduated this month with her MBA. "It was exciting to be able to turn theory into practice."
Mack's mother Jean Jackson, who has her doctorate in education, wrote the formal curriculum for the clinics. Jackson also will sometimes attend sessions and talk to the children's parents about school classes and college entrance requirements.
The group also tries to teach about how golf rules can be incorporated into everyday life.
"We teach about being honest, because in golf, there's no referee, so you call your rules on the other person, the other person calls the rules on you," Mack said of some of the group's lessons. "Golf is a networking tool. Many business ventures begin on the course. Helping to expose our youth to golf is just good business."
Mike Whitson, then coach of the women's golf team, and athletic director Ron Prettyman supported the initiative, Mack said, and the team members volunteered at the clinics.
"I was very much in favor of the young women on our team providing free golf lessons and exposing many of our community youth to the great game of golf," Prettyman said. "Some of these community kids would have never picked up a golf club if they had not participated in Tee It Up."
Junior Emily Dixon, an ISU golfer and athletic training major from Zionsville, first volunteered with the organization when she was a freshman; she quickly found she enjoyed it.
"Not only were we having a good time, we were also interacting with children and helping them improve their golf game," Dixon said. "We all had fun together."
Tee It Up, which Mack created with her sister, Sydnee Mack, has conducted golf clinics in various parts of the United States. Sydnee Mack, who is a student at Hampton University, has organized clinics in Virginia. The sisters also have organized sessions when they return home for the summer in Las Vegas, Nev., and they even conducted a clinic for visiting children while they had an internship at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.
The sisters spent several weeks last summer hosting clinics at Spangdahlem Air Base, a United States Air Force Base in Germany. Sydnee Mack learned of an organization soliciting proposals for an international educational experience, so the sisters issued a proposal for Tee It Up, which was approved.
They conducted clinics every day for two weeks. They supplied all the needed equipment and coordinated buses to take participants to and from the sessions. So many kids signed up that a second afternoon clinic needed to be added; they initially had only planned for a daily morning session.
"I had a blast," Mackenzie Mack said. "I honestly didn't think we'd be in Germany. I just started it to help people learn the game of golf that has given me so much."
The organization provides a positive community service, and volunteers also enjoy participating, Dixon said.
"The children are receiving knowledge of golf from experienced players and they have an opportunity to improve their skills," she added. "It also gives the kids a place to go to have fun and interact with other kids."
Mack has enjoyed her time running Tee It Up. She plans on continuing working with the organization even after she graduates from Indiana State.
"I don't necessarily see it as a full-time endeavor, but I definitely want it to grow," Mack said. "It's a hobby ... so it's definitely fun right now. Lots of fun."
More information about Tee It Up can be found on the group's website: www.teeitup-golf.org
Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Tee-it-Up/i-8t6RN4z/0/L/Tee-It-Up-1-L.jpg (Submitted photo)Indiana State University graduate Mackenzie Mack and the ISU golf team teach kids participating in a Tee It Up golf clinic. Mack co-founded Tee It Up, which teaches children about golf and other life lessons that are implemented into the clinic's session plan.
Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Tee-it-Up/i-vggGrMq/0/L/Tee-It-Up-3-L.jpg (Submitted photo)Indiana State University graduate Kayley Bodine works with a youth participant during a Tee It Up clinic.
Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Tee-it-Up/i-fJFvn94/0/L/Tee-It-Up-2-L.jpg (Submitted photo)Collegiate golfer and Tee It Up volunteer Alex Borcherts (third from right, holding golf club) and Sydnee Mack (far right) lead a Tee It Up session in Las Vegas, Nev. Tee It Up clinics have been conducted in various places, including Terre Haute, Las Vegas, Virginia, Florida and Germany.
Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Tee-it-Up/i-mq57MVj/0/L/Tee-It-Up-4-L.jpg (Submitted photo)The ISU golf team volunteering during a Tee It Up clinic.
Contact: Mackenzie Mack, co-founder, Tee It Up, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director for media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or email@example.com.
Mackenzie Mack co-created Tee It Up, a nonprofit organization that hosts golf clinics teaching kids valuable lessons through the sport's rules and mentoring. Volunteers teach children about golf and other life lessons.