Junior golfers take over the Paint Creek Country Club course from 8-10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays from late June through Aug. 15. The entire course closes to members who embrace and support the kids program. Closing the course allows the kids to get experience on the entire 18-hole course.
Instructor for the program Steve Vickery, the head golf pro for the club, has been working for the club for 27 years. The Junior Golf program was designed to teach kids the fundamentals of the game, and that philosophy has held true for the past 25 seasons.
“It’s organized chaos,” said a smiling Vickery, between giving instructions to individuals and groups of kids, who show him the utmost respect and proceed exactly as he instructs. “I try to make it fun, so the kids want to be here.”
Vickery, a registered PGA professional, said the program would not be successful without family support. Each group of kids on the course has one parent with them. There is no official sign-up sheet, they know what needs to be done, they enjoy doing it, and many times there are 2-3 adults in a group.
“We have parents, grandparents, nannies and sitters showing up to help on any given day,” said Vickery.
The families, he said, realize the future of the game depends on getting the kids involved — and it also becomes a family sport.
The four-level program — beginner, intermediate, 9-holer, and 9-holer advanced — encompass the 88 kids in the program, ranging from 7-17 years old. Throughout the summer, all levels are taught the techniques of golf – how to putt, chip and swing. Equally as important, they learn the game rules, course etiquette and respect for the golf course and other players.
“The kids bond over the summer, they make new friendships. The life lessons they pull out are probably more important than golf,” said Vickery.
Don Carrier, program coordinator for the past three years, has six grandchildren in the program. “It teaches the kids so much more than golf. They make new friends, learn sportsmanship and their social skills improve.”
Vickery said he doesn’t know what he would do without Carrier. “He keeps everything running smoothly, from the score cards to registration.”
The season will end on Aug. 15 with the Junior Golf Banquet. Trophy’s and certificates will be handed out, “and each kid will be able to pick something off the raffle table; they love that part,” he said.