Tom Doak, Marygrove College Team to Build Midnight Golf Facility

DETROIT, Mich. – Midnight Golf, a wildly successful mentoring program for inner city youths that uses the game of golf to inspire achievement, is about to take its most significant step since founder Renee Fluker began the program in 2001.

The program, which has sent 351 students to 60 colleges and universities, is getting a new permanent practice facility thanks to the generosity of Marygrove College and world-renowned golf course architect Tom Doak, who resides in Traverse City.

The college on West McNicols is donating five acres on the east side of campus for the facility. Doak and his Renaissance Golf team will design and supervise the construction free of charge.

The new facility will have four short holes, two practice tee areas with 26 hitting bays, and a large sand bunker and putting green.
   
“It is a godsend for us to have someone of his reputation and stature to take the time to come down to Detroit and help us,” said David Gamlin, Midnight Golf’s program director. “We are elated beyond belief that someone of his caliber would be interested in helping young people in Detroit to get a brighter future and we are very grateful.”

Doak has designed more than 30 highly-acclaimed courses worldwide, and is currently working at the Country Club of Detroit where he is remaking all tees and greens. He said it was an honor to be asked to help out with the project for midnight golf. 

“All of my associates and I grew up playing public golf courses in towns where junior golf was affordable and close at hand," Doak said. "If it wasn't for that, we might never have found this thing we love to do. We've noticed in the past 10-20 years that many new golf facilities fail to make room for the next generation of golfers.

"The pro formas all count on a maximum number of rounds being played at full retail prices, and once the course is developed with those costs in mind, they have a hard time finding ways to let teenagers onto the course, even when it's not full. We've been actively seeking projects where we can help to reverse this trend, and Marygrove was a perfect venue.”

Doak pointed out that two of his associates, Bruce Hepner and Brian Slawnik, grew up within 20 minutes of Marygrove. While he was overseeing the work at the Country Club of Detroit, Slawnik used his spare time to pull together plans for the Marygrove facility.

Leading turf grass expert Tom Mead developed the grass plans to launch the new facility. Mead is widely known in the golf industry for his sustainable turf grass practices and work at well-known courses like Sand Hills, Whistling Straits and Pacific Dunes.

The Midnight Golf program is a 30-week empowering and mentoring experience that teaches life skills including financial literacy, college preparation, community activism, as well as, learning to play golf. Participants meet on Monday and Wednesday for three hours each day. Golf lessons are taught by three PGA of America professionals.

Midnight Golf and Marygrove have been working together since 2005 for after school programs.

Gamlin said because of Detroit’s limited resources students had to travel to Southfield for golf. He said the new facility will not only give participants a permanent home, it will be a good recruiting tool.

“It will help ignite the conversation on golf and get more of the people we are trying to recruit to discuss or think about golf in a more logical way when they are driving by and seeing what is going on over there at Marygrove,” he said.

 

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