A Kansas City man with a vision to turn around his Ivanhoe neighborhood has made a tremendous sacrifice in the name of getting closer to fulfilling his goals: He bulldozed his own childhood home.
Chris Harris is the founder and creator of Harris Park, a space in the Ivanhoe part of town designed to encourage children -- and the adults in their lives -- active outdoors through sports like basketball, pickle ball and golf. Harris believes the sports teach kids "sportsmanship, honor and discipline," which sounds a lot like some of the nine core values taught in The First Tee programs nationwide.
So, it makes sense then that Harris wanted to have a chapter in Harris Park. In November 2018, after three months of construction, the Harris Park golf course opened.
In the limited space he had to build the course, funded with private and corporate donations, Harris built two putting greens and six tee boxes. Using limited-flight golf balls, the golf course has 12 holes, giving kids new to the game a great playground to learn and try all kinds of shots. PGA of America instructors come in to help kids, including introducing them to the game and its concepts, according to WDAF-TV.
The course's opening represents the completion of the first phase of the golf project, which involved demolishing some of the abandoned, blighted homes in the neighborhood.
At the end of April 2019, Harris took the next step, tearing down the house Harris and his family lived in for 50 years to make way for another green so there can be 18 different shot-hole combinations.
The teardown is the culmination of 25 years of work to purchase the lots surrounding his home so he could build the park. The last remaining piece was his own lot.
"I really do believe that if we have the opportunity in the neighborhood, there will be a lot more people playing the game of golf," Harris said to WDAF-TV. "I think golf is accessible to us as well. My goal is to make sure I come out here and take care of this golf course, make it beautiful. Make the beautification that helps the neighborhood, gives the kids another opportunity to get scholarships. It can open so many other doors along with other sports."