By Megan Kelley
The Paint Creek Country Club has a different feel on Tuesday mornings over the summer each year when local junior golfers take over the fresh course.
While it can be challenging, the young golfers often learn more than technique and end up finding their love for the game.
Steve Vickery, a registered PGA professional, is the program’s instructor and head golf pro and has been working for the club for 32 years.
“We try to teach golf etiquette and good life skills, such as being polite to the other players,” Vickery said.
He and his team – Junior Golf Coordinator Terry Moore and Assistant-Pro Martin Hanna – work on the fundamentals of golf with the kids, like putting, chipping, developing their full swing.
The Junior Golf program usually runs from about late June through mid-August.
Last year, the program had 40 kids participate, a lower number than years before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, there are about 50 junior golfers, a lot of which are new to the program.
“Even though the number is similar to last season, it’s certainly a different mix and I think that we’ve got more beginners than usual just from the fact that golf itself has kind of been resurging due to COVID and being able to do things outside that you couldn’t do inside,” said Vickery.
The Junior Golf program was designed to teach kids the fundamentals of the game, and getting children involved in the sport is imperative to keeping the game alive.
The four-level program — beginner, intermediate, 9-holer, and 9-holer advanced — includes kids ranging from 7-17 years old.
Vickery’s goal with the program every year is to not only teach the benefits and fundamentals of golf, but for the kids to learn life lessons like sportsmanship and how to work together as a team.
The junior golfers also often find themselves having fun and making new friends along the way.
“They’re having a ball,” Vickery said. “We’ve had a lot of good instruction time and playing on the golf course.”
On Tuesday, Vickery gifted each golfer with their own embroidered quarter-zip polo shirt and at season’s end, the kids are treated to a banquet with trophies and certificates.