CHICAGO — Dion Madkins’ introduction to golf was as a 12-year-old caddie.

Though he didn’t last very long at the private golf clubs where he worked, he credits the game with showing him the way out of the rough when he was “a troubled youth.”

“I was not a critical thinker before I started to play golf. It helped me to change my thought process. It helped me to see more,” said Madkins, 31.
Before getting back into the sport, he was facing jail time for drug dealing, but golf, along with the arrival of his first child, made him a better decision maker because he began to think about the long term instead of instant gratification, he said.

“In order to get good at the game of golf, you really have to dedicate yourself. It’s a thinking man’s game,” he said.

Even the length of the game is a plus, he said. “The average round of golf takes four to 4½ hours. That’s four to 4½ hours that I was spending with no mischief … with no trouble … no negative influences,” Madkins said.

Now, the Woodlawn resident and founder of the Hit It Straight Golf Academy believes it can help other young black men in the city in need of direction. All it takes is an opportunity, he said.

And Madkins sees that opportunity ascending like a sunrise over the Jackson Park golf course, which, along with the South Shore course, is slated for a $30 million merger and renovation.

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