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A Golf Center Grows in Harlem
Author: Paul Rogers
August 25th 2017 - A leader of the Bridge Golf Foundation hopes it will be a “model for progressive gentrification” through its work with underprivileged and mostly black adolescent boys.

Two years ago, Juan Cortorreal had never held a golf club. And now here he was, a freshman from the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem, competing against the top player from the Bronx High School of Science, one of the city’s best teams.

As his team’s No. 1 man, Juan had to tee off in the first group, in front of a crowd, at the Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx, toward the end of the school year last May. Everyone fell hushed as he settled into his stance. With a patient backswing and whiplike follow-through, he sent his ball flying up the tree-lined fairway. He outdrove his opponent, a far more seasoned player, but proceeded to lose the hole and, eventually, the match, just as he had every other match all season. Afterward, though, he was practically ebullient.

“It was probably the most competitive match I’ve had,” Juan, 15, said. “It was fun; it was really fun.”

Juan and his identical twin, Antonio, are two of 20 Eagle Academy students who are avidly learning the game — and studying science, math and character lessons — with the Bridge Golf Foundation of Harlem. The group’s mission is to improve the lives and opportunities of young minority men through golf.

The golf program is the latest in a growing number of organizations in New York and across the country devoted to introducing minority youths to sports traditionally played mostly by whites and to providing mentoring and tutoring programs. Harlem alone has StreetSquash; Ice Hockey in Harlem; Harlem Lacrosse; and Dream, formerly Harlem RBI, which focuses on baseball and softball.
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