In golf, valuable lessons for student interns

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Dennis Bolden had never golfed before grabbing some clubs last week and heading out to a grassy area in the middle of Detroit.

Bolden, who recently graduated from Cody High School in Detroit and plans to attend Henry Ford College this fall to learn more about skilled trades, said golf was a sport he considered dull — but not anymore.

“I thought it was going to be boring,” he said. “But it’s hard — and fun.”

Bolden is one of about 500 student interns at DTE Energy this summer, and part of a smaller group of about 60 interns from Detroit Public Schools Community District. Last week, The First Tee of Greater Detroit visited DTE’s headquarters in Detroit to teach the smaller group about golf.

Well, golf and little about life.

“In many ways, golf is different than other sports,” Jody Dungey, executive director The First Tee of Greater Detroit, told the interns before the clubs started to swing. “It’s quieter, of course. But players also learn important values that apply far beyond the tee box and putting greens. These are values that will help anyone succeed in life.”

The lesson of the day — beyond proper grip of a club, the basics of a good swing and the proper form for putting — centered on a handful of The First Tee’s core values: Respect, Judgement and Honesty. The students learned about how, in golf, players are expected to honestly keep their own score and even call penalties on themselves

It’s a lesson that hit home for Wellington Bryant, Jr., a Detroit resident who is entering his senior year at Advance Technology Academy.

“The things we are learning can be real valuable,” he said between chip shots. “You go through many courses in life all the time, so these are important values to learn and live by.”

The interns transitioned through four stations in a grassy area just north of the DTE headquarters. They participated in different aspects of the game, including putting, chipping, driving and a combination of all three in a small four-hole course.

Yumeri Jimenez of Detroit said her time with The First Tee was the only time she’s ever played golf, calling “a really new experience.”

“I’m finding out every sport is different,” she said. “Right now, golf seems really different, but I think I could really like it; it seems very calming.”

Jose Poprawa, an intern at DTE who is entering his senior year at Western International High School in Detroit, said his first golfing experience was a fun one. And he learned some lessons that many golfers take years to incorporate into their game.

“You have to be patient, never rush and don’t get mad,” he said.