Evanston news delivered free to your inbox!
Fourteen-year-old Olivia Ohlson is always ready for a challenge.
While balancing school, sports, clubs, making hygiene kits, raising money for breast cancer research and winning the Future of Evanston service award, Ohlson has launched another endeavor to make the world a more just place: “Diversify Golf.”
It’s simple, Ohlson says: Until she started playing golf at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she associated the sport with older and wealthy men, usually white.
And that’s what she wants to change.
Diversify Golf is a new Evanston organization committed to making golf more accessible to young women and people of color. Ohlson says she wants to see more people who look like her in the North Shore golf sector.
“I noticed the lack of diversity in the golfing community in our area, especially in the youth,” she said. “When I tell people I play golf, they say to me, ‘Isn’t that sport just for white men?’ It’s about changing the images that come in people’s heads when they think of golf.”
Also, golf isn’t cheap, so Ohlson has been collecting donated clubs and has already secured 12 for different age groups. The price of clubs can often be a barrier to golf, along with the clothing, membership to courses and lessons.
Ohlson said Diversify Golf wants to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to try golf at least once to see if they like it.
“We want to try to make it free so kids can at least try it and see if they like it or not. But they deserve the equitable chance,” she said.
While Diversify Golf just launched in March, Ohlson already has many plans in the works. She will be running a four-week golf clinic at Fleetwood Jourdain in July, is collaborating with Girls Play Sports to offer clinics and hopes to offer more clinics during physical education classes this fall along with partnering with the ETHS girls golf team that she is on.
Ohlson said she hopes to bring in speakers who are female players or players of color from the Chicagoland area to further show young, interested golfers that there’s more than one image of what a golf player looks like.
Ohlson’s mother, Gini, says it’s difficult managing her daughter’s busy schedule but her activism, passion and empathy for social justice makes it all worth it.
“She is a go-getter, and she always has been,” Gini said.