“When I become a professional golfer, I’m going to let everyone know about FabGolf.”
– Bishop, age 10
“I knew right away that this was more than just golf. The game of golf gave our kids opportunities for career paths, outside of just the ‘sport-agronomy,’ hospitality, engineering, turf management, landscaping, communications, marketing, and club fitting. Things they never had access to, but now it’s all in one space – “The Course”
– Director of Golf, Orlando Peace
Orlando Peace, Director of FabGolf, has been impacting the lives of youth for over 25 years. In the past two decades Orlando has impacted the youth of his community working with organizations such as Whaling City Boxing in New London, Connecticut; Mashantucket Tribal Nation in Ledyard, Connecticut; and The Boys and Girls Club of Newport County.
In addition to his work at FabNewport, Orlando impacts the community of Newport on other fronts as a board member of The Kiwanis Club, a board member of The Newport Prevention Coalition, and as the second Vice President of Newport County NAACP.
As Orland describes it, FabNewport provides a “safe, inclusive learning environment where adults respect and listen to youth and enable them to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.” FabGolf, which launched last February when Orlando joined the Fab team, gives kids access to the game they’ve never had access to before, and a space where kids can learn to be better teammates with character.
“Orlando is always so excited when he returns from the course,” said Steve Heath. “He came into the lab last night bursting at the seam with enthusiasm with this story.”
“After dropping kids off at home I returned to the lab last night to find the rest of the Fab X team hard at work. I was bursting at the seams to share my story about one of the most amazing times I’ve had among many. Finding Steve and Racheal in the wood shop I had to share this one. ‘OMG guys let me tell you about the kids today, they were amazing with the matches going back and forth, we made it to hole number three, a downhill par 4.”
“The kids wanted the tee’s at the 150 yard for this hole just to test their driving ability. Three out of the foursome made it down the fairway and the last kid with the least experience was up, that was Demetrik. A small frame African American kid with fire in his belly today, he has the smile and laugh that makes your heart melt. He was nervous but he looked over at me and with a whispering little voice he said “I Got this.”
“I try to make every outing as though the kids are on a PGA tour event by being the walk along commentator for the group. Next up on the tee from Newport, Rhode Island, Demetrik Thomas!!! ( Applause ) from his team mates. He sets up and takes another look at the flag and crushes his drive down the fairway and the crowd goes wild. 30 yds away he chips up on to the green and tells me again, I’m going to par this hole. Everyone else had putted and picked up their balls leaving the stage for D. He’s looking at a 10 foot downhill putt for birdie and the greens are fast, Demetrik lines up his ball and hits it, rolling fast he’s chasing the ball yelling Stop, Stop. The ball went a foot past the hole folks and he has this little one footer for his first ever par, he taps it in and these kids go nuts on the green screaming DEMETRIK, DEMETRIK smiles everywhere and D looks like he had seen Santa Claus for the first time in his life. He picks his ball out of the hole and says ”I'm never using this again, it’s my special ball, thanks coach.” I patted him on the back and said “no kid, thank you!!”
The Green Valley Country Club, in Portsmouth RI, has become the FabGolf hub for over a year. With access to all 18 holes, a driving range, putting green, chipping areas and clubhouse amenities, FabGolfers couldn’t ask for much more. But Peace took the relationship to another level by asking Green Valley’s golf professional Gary Sikes if he would agree to host a Jr. PGA. Sikes, gratefully agreed and the kids will play matches against other local golf clubs. The kids receive, at no cost thanks to the PGA, a home and away jersey with their name on the back with a hat or visor in a tidy kit.
The Green Valley staff has been a blessing, with two PGA professionals willing to lend a hand and helpful advice. In addition to Green Valley, FabGolf would not be possible without the help of our sponsors, A1 Roofing and Construction, Newport Prevention Coalition, Looking Upwards, Salve Regina University(Community Service Dept), and The van Buren Charitable Foundation, and other private donors
BUILDING MORE THAN RELATIONSHIPS
Though Green Valley Country Club is every FabGolfers favorite sunny day spot, Orlando found ways to make FabGolf into year round fun for our students. FabGolfers had the pleasure of spending the colder days at Newport Indoor Golf, and also bringing in more aspects of FabNewport into the FabGolf program by building their own Putt Putt courses.
K'NEX: As last fall turned into winter, we couldn’t just keep going into the Newport Indoor Golf range. One team member, Brady, had an interest in roller coasters. We decided that it was a perfect opportunity for our students to showcase their budding engineering skills. Throughout the colder months, FabGolfers spent their free time building K'Nex roller coasters in FabNewort’s workshop.
Putt-Putt : As the K'Nex Amusement Park came to be a successful and workable reality, it was only natural that FabGolf’s team should be integrating our golf program and the roller coaster system as one. We created our own version of mini golf holes, with green courses ending in holes that, when the ball gets in, activates an electric current to animate the K'Nex structure.
No matter the weather, Peace always brings FabGolfers together – whether working on their technique or having a movie night in The Lab.