How Golf Balls Changed the World

I want to tell you a story about how golf balls changed the world

The story starts on an inner city housing estate, twenty years ago. Pretty much any image you’ve got in your head right now about “inner city housing estates” is probably doing an adequate job at describing the scene. Deprivation. Vandalism. Hostility. Fear.

Then in one house at one end of the estate, one of the residents takes a chance and talks to his neighbour. They share a joke over the fence. Let their kids play together. Give the other a hand when a car fails to start on a cold winter morning. Provide a friendly cup of tea when a day hasn’t gone so good.

Fast forward to today.

Now that one end of the estate is a nice place to live. There’s little crime there. People talk to each other and they celebrate their successes and mourn their losses as a community.

One man looks beyond his street however and sees that, really, things are still pretty dire one block over and he knows there is a way to go.

As he looks out his front window most mornings, he sees a young lad walking down the street carrying a golf club. The suspicious part of him could find it easy to think what the curtain twitchers think – he’s a yob, a trouble maker, just out looking for something – someone – to bash up. He knows the kid has a reputation but few kids on the estate haven’t got a reputation. So he refuses to listen to that part of his mind and pops down the local sports store and lays out £2 on a pack of four golf balls.

Next time the young lad walks down his street, the man steps out of his front door and calls him over. “You like golf, right?”
“Love it!” the young lad’s face lights up. “I go down the playground every day and practice”.
The man hands him the pack of golf balls. “Take these. I’m not going to get the use out of them…”

And the young man walks off down the street with a grin on his face and goes to the playground to practice with balls he hasn’t had to nick off anybody. The next time he walks up the street, he gives a wave to the man. Then he stops and has a chat one morning. Later on, he brings his father over to say hello.

Now the next street over is getting to be a nicer place to live. The people talk to each other and they celebrate their successes and mourn their losses as a community.

The man looks out of his front door and sees some kids from three blocks over running down the street with a patched up football. He goes down the local sports shop and lays out £2 for a new ball.

Next time the young lads run down the street, he steps out of his front door and calls them over.
“You like football, right? My grandchildren don’t play with this any more, why don’t you have it?”

True story.

7 thoughts on “How Golf Balls Changed the World

  1. You’re not the only one Erin. When it was told to me at work today (yes it really is a true story) I had to take a hasty gulp of coffee and hide behind my mug for a moment. It’s days like today that make me remember why I do the work that I do and why I respect the people I work with so much.

  2. The hair on my arms is standing up and saluting. I’m printing it up to bring to work and distribute. I’m a social worker in an inner city school district.

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