Grant Hornbeak established a junior golf program in October of 2013 when he raised $75,000 through donations to put The First Tee after school drive golf program in 23 Oroville schools.
Due to the student demand for golf Grant Hornbeak took over the operation of the Sunset Hills 9 hole golf course and driving range in October of 2015. Sunset hills offered all junior golfers free access to both driving range and green fees to play the course. The junior program was supported by retail sales to adults for range balls and green fees.
In August of 2015 Butte County Youth Sports and Education Foundation, a 501c3 tax-free corporation was formed and took over the operation of Sunset Hills golf facility.
As part of the ongoing operation, Sunset Hills offered a free golf clinic for junior golfers on Saturday mornings from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. As many as 30 juniors would show up for this weekly clinic to hit balls, play, and get free golf instruction.
From September of 2017 thru May of 2018 Sunset Hills offered a free daily after-school program for 8 Chico schools 5 days a week which introduced golf to over 300 students. Golf equipment, golf balls, and golf wear were also provided to needy junior golfers.
The Sunset Hills operation was forced to close down on May 25, 2020, due to the sale of a portion of the property and the pending COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of the junior golf program, a core group of 30 juniors remained interested in continuing their golf careers. Through donations from foundations like the George Maderos Junior Golf Foundation and grants from companies like 3core. Butte County Youth Sports and Education Foundation has been able to support these junior golfers with access fees to local golf courses, tournament tour fees, and entry fees through the end of 2020.
This core group of junior golfers has had great success in previous tournaments with many first through 5th in their respective age groups. Several of them are destined to go on to future college golf careers.
Butte County Youth Sports and Education has been able to provide for young and beginning golfers by continuing a free clinic at Skyway golf and driving range on Saturday mornings. Some of these younger juniors are now ready to begin tournament play in the U.S. KIDS Sacramento fall golf tour.
With the local schools shut down and currently no after-school activates being offered, this program becomes extremely important. During the period that this program has been in place, there has been many positive changes in these young golfers.
In the past Butte County Youth Sports and Education Foundation has been able to meet its yearly budget of approximately $35,000 through profits from retail operations at Sunset hills, grants, donations, and fundraisers. A big part of that budget was from Sunset Hills. With the Sunset hills facility now gone and COVID-19 causing us to postpone golf tournament fundraisers, we need to rely primarily on donations and grants.
Our long term goal is to develop a golf facility like Sunset Hills that would include a driving range 9-hole short course and golf instruction school, with the ultimate goal of greatly expanding the Junior Golf Program.
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