New York Knicks guard, JR Smith may not look like your typical golfer but he is passionate about the sport. Smith hopes to inspire future generations of golfers and recently helped open the JR Smith Learning Center. Located in Smith’s home state of New Jersey, the JR Smith Learning Center is a three-hole short course run by the local chapter of The First Tee, a national non-profit aimed at introducing golf to youth who may not have had the opportunity to learn the sport otherwise. The Asbury Park Press explains more about the center’s use and why Smith opened it up:
But the learning center — a three-hole short course — marks their first facility designed specifically to draw young players into the game. The undulating greens, which average around 4,800 square-feet, are similar to putting surfaces you’d find on a regulation course.
While the First Tee will run their clinics and programs at the facility, as well as maintain the course, it will be open to the public.
“I’ve been given a great opportunity because of what I’ve done on the basketball court, and it’s put me in these situations where I can help with things like this.” said Smith, an avid golfer. “A lot of the guys I grew up with are still in the area and have kids, and as parents we all want our kids to be able to do stuff that we haven’t experienced.”
Helping youth through golf is nothing new for Smith as every year he hosts the JR Smith Youth Foundation Golf Classic, which raises funds for youth scholarships. In a 2010 SLAM interview, Smith talked more about this event and his love for golf:
SLAM: So, you’re a golfer?
JR SMITH: Yeah! I got into the sport within the last year and a half. I like it, it’s challenging. It just gives me another thing to think about when I’m not playing basketball.
SLAM: What do you want to come from this golf tournament? Raise money, raise awareness of your foundation?
JR SMITH: For me, I really want to get kids into playing golf, the younger generation in my area. I think golf can be a great sport for kids. I never really had the opportunity to play growing up, and it’s a way to keep kids involved in something positive and keep them active. People always complain about how big kids are and say we should get them involved in more stuff, so why not?
So in four years and dozens of tattoos later, Smith has taken the next step to get youth involved in golf by opening the JR Smith Learning Center. Who says he is immature?
Keep up the good work JR and keep puttin’: