HARWICH ─ There is an African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. When it comes to the Monomoy High golf programs, it takes a community of dedicated duffers to ensure its ongoing success. From the WHGANY tournament to newly donated junior memberships there is resounding support for high school student athletes interested in hitting the links.
When longtime golf enthusiast, Monomoy fan, and volunteer coach Jack Farrell reflects on all that the local community has done and continues to do for the student athletes at the high school, he gets downright giddy, and comes back to that aforementioned proverb.
“It really does take a village,” he said, adding that he's especially excited about the latest piece of the support puzzle, the junior memberships.
“One of the most difficult things with golf is the cost, and access to courses,” said Farrell. “We literally have kids on the golf team who never hit a golf ball unless they're with the team. When they leave us at the end of the school year, they never pick up a club. The time when they should be playing golf is in the summer.”
For help, Farrell reached out to one of the owners of Kinlin Grover Real Estate, Mike Schlott, an avid golfer and philanthropist. After explaining the situation, Farrell posed the possibility of Schlott donating junior memberships to student athletes, beginning with the girls team. Schlott was immediately on board.
“We like to give back to the community since we're a community-based business,” he said. “When we see an opportunity to do something that will have an impact, large or small, we like to find ways to give back, simple as that.”
In total, eight student golfers were granted junior memberships, seven at Cranberry Valley in Harwich, and one at Chatham Seaside Links. Schlott said his decision to support the program through the memberships was twofold.
“One, it's young golfers,” he said. “When there's an initiative when we can impact young lives, we like to take the opportunity to do that. Also, it's an under-served program, one we think merits consideration not only for ourselves, but for others. Jack felt it made a difference and once we looked into it we agreed 100 percent.”
Schlott said that while this is the first time Kinlin Grover has been involved with the Monomoy program, it won't be the last.
“Hopefully there is more that we can do,” he said. “If there are programs that really make a difference that we can help grow, we're always glad to do it.”
Farrell is thrilled at the chance for young golfers to build their skills throughout the summer months.
“These kids all have memberships now so they can go and practice anytime they want and play in the afternoons when the kids are allowed in,” he said. “And the courses have just been fantastic, the way they open them up to the kids.”
“It's one of those sports where a lot of kids haven't been into it because the gear is so expensive and play is so expensive,” said Monomoy head coach John Anderson. “Being able to have that for the girls and the boys is just going to bring them to the next level, and it's really what Cape golf should be about since we have so many golf courses.”
Along with the new junior memberships is ongoing support from both the Cranberry Valley Women's Golf Association and the annual WHGANY tournament, which takes place at the beginning of June and has so far raised thousands to benefit students golfers, first at Chatham High School and now Monomoy.
“We've probably donated more than $10,000 worth of clubs to the program since its inception,” said Farrell. “Without that some of the kids would never be able to begin.”
In 2000 the WHGANY (which stands for We Haven't Got A Name Yet) started giving out scholarships, first to boys from CHS, now to boys and girls from MRHS, now totaling more than $200,000.
Scholarships used to come from the WHGANY itself, but after the event lost a beloved member, John “Toby” Sanders in 2015, the WHGANY crew created the Toby Sanders Scholarship Fund. Now affiliated with Cape Cod Foundation, they've set up the fund, as well as the Monomoy Golf Program Fund, the WHGANY is now a 501(c)3 with donations tax deductible.
Farrell said the true dedication of the golf community can be seen in those who aren't able to play in the annual WHGANY but are still willing to make donations.
“Everybody wants to be involved, yet we only have between 64 and 80 players in the actual tournament,” Farrell said. “Because it's so popular every year I keep adding new guys, and I've got guys who have yet to play in the tournament and every year write me a check. I had a guy who wrote me a check for $1,000 this year even though he couldn't play. It's unbelievable. It's become a big, big deal.”
“The WHGANY? That's Jack's baby,” said John Anderson. “It's the main way I got kids to come out for the program. From there, we got the kids clubs and they learned to love the sport.”
Then there is the Cranberry Valley Women's Golf Association, which each year raises enough funds to donate at least $1,000 to Monomoy's girls golf program.
“They've been marvelous, supporting the girls,” said Farrell.
“They've been there since the start,” said Anderson.
This past spring the Monomoy program was the largest on Cape Cod with nearly 20 players between varsity and junior varsity. Thanks to Monomoy Middle School teacher Gordon Napier and his efforts to get kids involved in the sport (he led a group of roughly 30 this school year), the future of the overall program looks bright.
“When we started the program we only had two girls, now we have 20 girls getting out on the course this summer,” said Anderson, who added that the community support is huge. “When I first became coach I had no idea that I had all these people that wanted to give back. I think it's going to make it so that golf is seen as one of our major sports at Monomoy.”
Farrell said that while a majority of the junior memberships (all but one) went to the girls, support will be coming for the boys team, as well.
“Most of these junior memberships went to the girls because starting out I didn't think I should push the envelope too far,” he said.
Farrell sees as a side bonus of the junior memberships the possibility of getting more kids involved in the sport.
“My goal is to introduce as many kids as possible to the game of golf, and teach them how to play properly so they'll have the game for the rest of their lives,” he said. “What the team does is up to them. If they are motivated to go and be competitive and to win league championships, like the team was last year, then so be it. But my motivation is to get the kids involved in the game because I know they'll have it for the rest of their lives.”
Along with being a sport that people can play forever, Farrell said that for young people golf teaches crucial life skills.
“Accountability, honesty, integrity, responsibility, code of conduct ... it's the only sport where you look in the mirror and call a penalty on yourself,” he said recalling pro golfer Tom Kite who lost the US Open when he called a penalty on himself that prevented him from winning the tournament. “That's golf. If you can't do that, you can't play golf.”
The support of the community, Farrell said, is giving the gift of golf to young people who will play for a lifetime.
“They don't even understand yet what a great influence this can be,” he said. “It's a wonderful experience.”