Sportress of Blogitude

Fore! J.R. Smith opens the ‘J.R. Smith Learning Center’ … for golf?


Both on and off the court, New York Knicks star J.R. Smith can be a riddle wrapped in a master inside an enigma. Supremely talented, sometimes aloof and always acting just a tad askew, Smith often infuriates Knicks fans and the organization with his oddball behavior and inconsistent play (see SoB’s J.R. Smith archives).

But Smith can demonstrate a charitable, giving side, as is the case with the opening of the J.R. Smith Learning Center of the First Tee. Located in Ocean County Park in Lakewood, N.J., the learning center is dedicated to bringing youngsters to the game of golf.

One wouldn’t assume it by simply looking at him, but Smith is an avid golfer and wants to pass along the greatness of the game to those less fortunate.

The J.R. Smith Youth Foundation is the primary sponsor of the learning center, which itself is an offshoot of the PGA’s First Tee program. Smith’s youth foundation holds an annual tournament, the JR Smith Youth Foundation Golf Classic, which raises scholarship funds for children less fortunate.

But the opening of the new learning center certainly expands Smith’s foray into the world where golf and charity meet.

Via The Asbury Park Press:

But the learning center — a three-hole short course — marks their first facility designed specifically to draw young players into the game. The undulating greens, which average around 4,800 square-feet, are similar to putting surfaces you’d find on a regulation course.

While the First Tee will run their clinics and programs at the facility, as well as maintain the course, it will be open to the public.

“I’ve been given a great opportunity because of what I’ve done on the basketball court, and it’s put me in these situations where I can help with things like this.” said Smith, an avid golfer. ”A lot of the guys I grew up with are still in the area and have kids, and as parents we all want our kids to be able to do stuff that we haven’t experienced.”

Pretty awesome. Kudos to Smith for being so heavily involved in such a worthwhile, noble and charitable pursuit. Although had it been me, I would have named the learning center “The J.R. Smith Center For Kids Who Can’t Golf Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.” It’s catchier.

[H/T Hardwood Paroxysm]