Members of the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association (Georgia GCSA) have completed the latest phase of a sports complex for boys in the state’s foster care system. The sports complex at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch in Waleska, Ga., about an hour north of Atlanta, includes a 60,000 square-foot fully-irrigated sports field and a baseball field that is now fenced.
“You wouldn’t recognize it from what it was when we started three years ago,” says Sam Burgess, Ansley Golf Club in Roswell, Ga.“It’s been a huge team effort every year. A lot of people have contributed to what we’ve been able to achieve. It’s a sheer blessing.”
Goshen Valley has six residences on a 300-acre cattle ranch and serves 10- to 21- year-olds, many of whom have been victims of abuse or neglect. The ranch has the highest occupancy rate of any system facility in the state.
Burgess, who coordinated this year’s volunteer effort along with Scott Lambert from Peachtree Golf Club, says one of the most rewarding aspects of the project has been to work hand in hand with Goshen Valley residents each year.
“Part of the beauty of it is that, every year, kids from the ranch have worked right alongside us,” he says. “They’ve been involved, worked hard, and I’m sure they’ve picked up some skills along the way.”
Activities performed at the most recent volunteer work day included installing an outfield fence on the baseball field, sod-cutting the infield, lining the field, spraying out weeds and topdressing and fertilizing both fields. The work team installed 260 feet of fencing donated by Chamblee Fence Company. Other companies that donated materials or services this year include: Bulk Aggregate Golf, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply, Harrell’s, Helena, Jerry Pate Turf and Irrigation, Peachtree Golf Club and Trion High School.
Goshen Valley founder John Blend says the sports complex does much more than provide a place for games.
“It’s a very therapeutic setting the way it’s been set up,” he says. “For families looking to reunify and rebuild their ties with their boys this is a space they are really gravitating towards. So it’s not just a place to play baseball or softball. It really serves a deeper purpose.”
The Georgia GCSA’s relationship with Goshen Valley stemmed from ties the boys home had with Billy Fuller, a former golf course superintendent and now principal of Billy Fuller Golf Design. Assistant superintendents and other Georgia GCSA members have also made significant contributions to Camp Will-A-Way in Fort Yargo State Park in Winder and Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta.