PGA professional Dave Boos works with a boy at Northwood Golf Academy on Youngstown’s East Side.
“I want to see that swing. It had better be looking good today,” PGA professional Dave Boos tells a preteen boy as he approaches a tee box. A girl standing nearby laughs at Boos’ mock seriousness. He can’t hold his stern face for long – especially when his 4- and 5-year-old pupils are running toward him, their faces beaming.
Boos gave basic lessons to dozens of Youngstown children on Thursdays this summer at the city-owned Stambaugh Golf Course, where he works. But it’s Tuesday. Boos and Chris Carfangia, the PGA professional at Pine Lakes Golf Course in Hubbard, greet kids at Northwood Golf Academy. A putting green and tee boxes stretch across what was a string of overgrown, littered inner-city lots amid an older, quiet, modest neighborhood on the East Side.
This is Brunilda Turner’s field of dreams.
Turner is executive director of Ebony Ladies Golf and Youth Foundation, which developed Northwood Golf Academy. Its official opening in summer 2013 was the culmination of many achievements. Five adjacent parcels were cleared and leveled to allow Southwoods Greens of Columbus to install 500 square yards of putting green and three tee boxes, valued at $10,000. Individual donors, businesses, nonprofits and foundations contributed money and services toward the project.
Turner and her friends in Ebony Ladies Golf League play at Stambaugh Golf Course. She met Boos there and expressed her intent to make golf more accessible to underprivileged children. He agreed to help. Likewise, men in the YOGO’s Golf Club playing at Pine Lakes introduced Carfangia to Turner. Soon, Carfangia was on board.
Dave Boos, golf professional at the city-owned Stambaugh Golf Course, instructs a girl on teeing off at Northwood Golf Academy, which opened in summer 2013 and put formerly vacant, abandoned land back to good use.
The availability of golf facilities added to the summer children’s camp at the nearby Associated Neighborhood Center. Children learned how to chip, putt, pitch and drive, and about golf rules and etiquette. Kids also tended box gardens on vacant land next to the golf academy, took art classes, worked on reading comprehension, learned about nutrition and physical fitness and visited Stambaugh Golf Course for additional instruction.
Little of this could have happened without land control. Turner didn’t own enough land to build the facility. Her brother, Maple Turner III, did.
Maple Turner earned degrees in fine arts at Youngstown State University and Parsons School of Design in New York City. His work has been shown at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown and Pace Gallery in New York. His paintings on display in a Harlem store caught the eye of a Time magazine writer. He lived in New York for 10 years before returning home to help his aging parents.
Maple Turner III appreciates the cool comfort of shady trees within lots he acquired from the Mahoning County Land Bank. Turner wants to create an open-air art studio.
“I didn’t realize the beauty of Youngstown until I left,” Maple Turner said.
Back on Northwood Avenue, Maple Turner began to dream of an open-air art studio, where children could learn to paint the natural beauty of their neighborhood. He acted on that vision by contacting the Mahoning County Land Bank (and its predecessor, Lien Forward Ohio Regional Council of Governments). With the Land Bank’s assistance, he acquired a few dozen vacant, tax-delinquent lots on Northwood and neighboring Edgar Avenue. He removed scores of old tires and sought professional help on preserving healthy trees and removing dead or diseased ones.
When he learned that his sister had received a significant but time-sensitive grant to build the golf academy, he put his plans aside to help her.
On the Green
“It’s a work in progress, but it will be beautiful,” Maple Turner says of the golf facility. Indeed, Brunilda Turner has additional plans. Phase 2 calls for landscaping, installation of sand bunkers, signage, acquisition of maintenance equipment and creation of a parking lot, she says. Phase 3 includes fencing, acquiring golf carts and additional equipment, creating a storage garage and starting plans for a driving range. Ebony Ladies Golf and Youth Foundation will offer a fall kids’ golf program at the McGuffey Center in Youngstown and the indoor Golf Dome in Girard, she added.
Work on Maple Turner’s dreams will resume this fall. Across the street and down the block from Northwood Golf Academy, he is cleaning up 18 contiguous lots he acquired through the County Land Bank. Tops of tall, slender trees bend gently toward each other, an effect he refers to as “the canopy.” It’s cool and comfortable under these trees on a warm summer day. Place some benches and easels here and people will have a place to sit, relax, paint and enjoy nature, he says. He also envisions birdhouses, as made and painted by neighborhood kids, hanging from tree limbs; installing a slate walkway to lead visitors into the canopy; and planting and preserving fruit trees within the area.
“This land will be utilized and not destroyed,” Maple Turner said.
As for what motivates him, “the community helped us to achieve our goals. We became professionals. We made money. It’s time to give back,” he said. “I’ve had all kinds of role models. … You have to be a role model, reach back.”
UPDATE: Sept. 19, 2013 … Ebony Ladies Golf and Youth Foundation is a winner of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation’s third annual Lots of Green 2.0 project competition. The foundation will receive financial and technical assistance from YNDC to expand the driving range at Northwood Golf Academy. Ebony Ladies Golf and Youth Foundation also was a winner of the first Lots of Green contest two years ago and used its award to install the putting green. Congratulations to Ebony Ladies on repeated success!