Greg Locke, Jr.
7255 B Dr. South
Battle Creek, Michigan 49015
Greg Locke, Jr. leads The First Tee of Battle Creek, introducing hundreds of kids in Battle Creek to golf through summer programs, school involvement, and more. He finds funding for every child who wants to play golf, whether they can pay the program fee or not. A lifelong passion for the game mixed with a strong love of kids is the recipe for Locke’s success.
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
The First Tee of Battle Creek Program Director Greg Locke, Jr.:
I always want to display enthusiasm and confidence in the work I do. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness, though, and a good leader has the ability to distinguish the two. It takes that ability to be able to walk into any situation -- even uncomfortable situations -- and have people look up to you as a leader, a teacher, and a manager in any given situation. That’s what a good leader does, and it’s what I always strive to do.
What is your dream for kids?
I dream that every child who comes through our program stays happy, healthy, and active, no matter whether it’s through golf or other sports, like soccer programs.
Responsibility, perseverance, respect are all values that are relative to golf as well as life.
I hope that staying active helps them to become well-rounded adults with some or all of the core values that we believe in here at The First Tee of Battle Creek. Responsibility, perseverance, respect are all values that are relative to golf as well as life. I hope that these kids continue to strive to achieve them.
I also dream that every child has the same opportunity for growth, enrichment, and fun as they go through their lives.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
I’d like to see more funding opportunities, especially for nonprofit agencies like ours that offer youth programming. We are always striving to do more fundraising, but we are really limited. Our staff is filled, but everyone is busy with the programs, so we don’t have the resources to do much as much in the way of fundraising as I would like.
More money is a big key to improvement. We just received a large grant from the United Way, and we get a lot of support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. I would like to have more time for grant writing and to gather more support from area foundations, individuals, and civic groups -- everyone who cares about kids.
How do you know you’re making progress?
Our attendance has grown tremendously. I think much of our growth is because we reach out to all of the local elementary and middle schools in Battle Creek. We bring our equipment to their gym classes.
I have been here since early April. When I got here, we didn’t have any kids signed up for the first session of our Life Skills
This job makes me want to jump out of bed every morning because I enjoy it so much. I have a heart for children and a love of the game.
Experience program. We have plenty now.
I know that I am making progress because that list just keeps on growing. Kids keep coming back. I have heard nothing but great feedback from teachers and other school faculty members -- even superintendents. Here’s one of my favorites. Last week, a little girl asked her parents, “Can I skip softball and go golfing instead?” Everyday, I try personally to maintain great relationships with parents, so I hear nice things like this all of the time.
What are you most proud of?
I did my internship here at First Tee of Battle Creek after I graduated from Western Michigan University in 2006, and after that, spent eight years in a medical sales career in California.
I liked that job and I‘m proud that I was successful at it, but I always intended to come back home. I was born and raised in Kalamazoo. I maintained my relationships with The First Tee of Battle Creek for the entire time; when this job became available and they asked me to take it, I did. I came home. I’m proud that they wanted me to come back to First Tee, and I am also proud that I was able to make the transition.
What originally drew you to your current profession?
I have always loved the game of golf. I started taking lessons in the fourth grade. And, like I mentioned, I was lucky enough to intern here at The First Tee of Battle Creek, so, even though I enjoyed my work in California, coming back just felt right to me. This job makes me want to jump out of bed every morning because I enjoy it so much. I have a heart for children and a love of the game. This is perfect for me.