It’s just after lunchtime, two hours before we tee off, and the CGB crew is knee deep in the weeds off a urban trail on the Westside of Colorado Springs. We’ve filled the bed of a pick up with with heaps of garbage — everything from liquor bottles, cigarette butts and your typical litter to mangled shopping carts, bike tires and, of course, discarded underwear — and smiling all the way. It’s not our ordinary pre round warmup, but when @golfinyourstate (Matt Cardis) comes to town, the extra-ordinary should be expected.
GIYS recently launched the Golf Wall Project, a first-of-its-kind initiative inspiring golfers around the country to become more involved in their local communities by volunteering a little time and effort. The Colorado GWP meet up brought us to a busy local trailhead for a little cleanup, but the spirit of the project is much more than that. With trash bags and gloves on hand, Cardis explained that it’s not just about cleaning up the trail for other users, or notching a “good deed” off the list — it’s about recognizing the underlying issues our community faces, what each one of us can do about those issues, and inspiring ourselves and those around us to get involved and stay involved. All the while, Cardis says, the GWP is changing the perception of golf and golfers — removing the well-to-do, uppity, privileged stereotypes, and tossing them into the weeds, quite literally.
Our group, about a dozen strong, made quick work of our stretch of trail along the city’s notorious Fountain Creek, cleaning up the remnants of a few abandoned homeless camps and the areas bordering the paved path and bridge crossing. The immediate impact of the hour we spent out there certainly didn’t change the world or solve all the city’s issues, even though the trail was looking pretty good. But the long term impact the project had on the attendees is what it’s all about.
“I’m leaving a footprint and you guys are finishing the trail,” Cardis said in an interview with a local tv station that came out to cover the cleanup. “I get these guys out here today, they do this, hopefully they think it’s cool and have fun and they [do it again].”
Here’s a shocker: it was fun, and before the last bag was in the back of the truck we were already brainstorming what we could do next. Mission accomplished.
With the truck full and trail sparkling, it was time for golf. Each GWP initiative is tied to some kind of golf event, and, well, CGB knows how to do golf events. With Cardis’ blessing and help from our sponsor at King’s Deer Golf Club we set up one of our signature group skins games for all the volunteers, with the majority of the proceeds going towards future GWP initiatives.
An epic twilight round ensued, finishing as a group of ten underneath an iconic Colorado sunset. Even after a nine hour day, no one was ready to quit. We gathered in the famous GIYS van for a final recap, and one by one each attendee shared their thoughts on the day’s events. A common theme arose: we normal, everyday, average golfers can change the world for the better with just a little effort, and, more importantly, we feel empowered to do so.
The Golf Wall Project will continue through 2019 and into 2020, criss-crossing the country wherever it’s called. There are a number of ways to get involved including enviable photo experience and golf travel packages — with 50% of the profit going to GWP — volunteering and/or simple donations. Visit golfinyourstate.com/golf-wall-project for more information and to sign up.