If you are chosen to participate in the Ryder Cup Junior Golf Academy, then you have clearly emerged as an outstanding golfer. Nathaniel Graves, 16, a resident of East Oak Lane and a student at Calvary High School, has been selected to represent the Philadelphia PGA section for the Ryder Junior Cup Academy, which is held by the PGA National Organization at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
The program has 81 junior golfers from around the country. The seven-day program is organized on a yearly basis at the PGA Center for Golf & Learning. They have award winning PGA professionals along with staff members on site to give instruction and coaching on the fundamentals of the game.
Graves is currently participating in the program. He knows this is a great opportunity for him. He also had to go through a lengthy application process to be accepted to the program.
“There’s little golf sections around the country,” Graves said. “They have PGA sections and there’s a Philadelphia section. They take kids out of each section and they send them down to Florida to the Ryder Cup Academy.”
“You have to submit a 2,000 word essay. You have to send in your G.P.A. (grade point average), golf scores and what you’re doing in your community. You have a lot of kids submitting entries from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I submitted everything. They picked me based on these things. My essay talked about how the Ryder Cup would benefit me in accomplishing my golf goals and getting me to a higher level and volunteer and tell inner city kids about golf camps. I want to use my skills to help other kids learn the game.”
Graves is a role model for many inner city kids playing golf. He has played on the Philadelphia Junior Tour since 2010. He has played at a number of public golf courses around the city like Walnut Lane and FDR. He also plays at Philmont Country Club in Huntingdon Valley.
In addition, he is a member of the First Tee program at the FDR Golf Course in South Philadelphia. He has participated in the Golf Channel First Tee Invitational in Florida over the past two years.
Graves credits his father, Don Graves, with introducing him to the game. He helped him develop a good foundation for playing golf.
“My dad asked me if I wanted to go to this golf camp,” he said. “At the time, I was playing basketball and football. I wasn’t really that excited about it. Then, I decided to go to the camp. I started swinging and they saw where I had a pretty good swing. My dad got me this set of clubs. The next week, I had seen one of my friends compete in a golf tournament. I really liked it. That’s really how I got started.”
Through hard work and good exposure, Graves is a name to remember in the sport of golf.