Few people in golf have paid it forward more than Ron Dumas. As a 10-year-old in Ohio, he started caddying for Jimmy Woods, a highly-regarded black pro who always wanted to start a golf program to bring kids together. Dumas himself would do just that three decades later.
“I went to Jamaica in 1995 to teach kids golf,” he said. “It was like a third-world country then, but I started a program with 15 kids, and that eventually turned into 175 kids.” Inspired by the results, he decided to use golf to bring people together in his native Cincinnati with a program called Reaching Out for Kids. “Rich kids, poor kids, from affluent and lower-income neighborhoods, it didn’t matter,” he said. “Still doesn’t.”
Since 1997 countless kids have learned about golf and education topics including, reading, writing, math and history, under the direction of Dumas at Avon Fields Golf Course in Cincinnati. In fact, more than 200 program alums have gone on to graduate from more than 21 colleges.
Dumas knows well the value of mentors in a child’s life. “I started off caddying to make money, but people were so nice to me,” he recalled. “My mother and father were not around, so having all these mentors talking to me about school and learning to play golf helped me leave the poor neighborhood I was from. It taught me to become a better person, and that’s why I love doing the same for kids now. A lot of them have to go home to tough neighborhoods.”
During Black History Month, Dumas ensures that program participants learn about black golfers, including Jimmy Woods, Pete Brown, Charlie Sifford, Renee Powell, and Kevin Hall, among many others. “We will tell the kids all about black golfers besides Tiger,” he said. “Like who was the first black golfer to play in a PGA-sanctioned event? No one knows the answer. It was the boxer Joe Louis (in 1952).”
“All I thought about when I started this program was, how do I get kids to get along with each other?” added Dumas. “I never thought it would grow into what we have today.”
And the 67-year-old has no plans of slowing down soon.
“I’ll do this until I’m 100!” he said with a laugh. “As long as God keeps me healthy, I’m going to continue to do it. We’ve got so many kids to help.”