Fort Bragg youth take swings at golf clinics
Josh Bullock, prepares to drive the ball after getting guidance from golfing intern, Gretchen McLean, July 2 at Ryder Golf Course. The 11-year-old was participating in the Junior Golf Clinic at the course, held weekdays at Ryder and at Stryker golf courses until Aug. 6. Bullock said he learned to drive the ball farther and harder, but has been most impressed with making new friends. He plans to take part in junior golf again next year. McLean also studies professional golf management at Methodist University.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Buyrl Ewing and his 10-year-old daughter, Morgan often golf together. When the two are on the golf course, it is their time to bond, Morgan said.

After a few outings with her father, Buyrl said Morgan expressed interest in becoming a better golfer.

Junior golf clinics being held at Ryder and Stryker golf courses are allowing Morgan to hone her golfing skills. Held three days a week through Aug. 6, children spend alternate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at each course, said Jeff Wastak, Ryder's assistant business manager. About 35 children attend the summer camp, which started in early June. The hours are 8:30 to 11 a.m., with lunch at 11 a.m., followed by parent pick up, he said.

Morgan said she has enjoyed attending junior camp. "They teach you a lot of good stuff here, like how to make your swing better and they're really nice," she said.

The program lays the foundation for golfing. "What we are teaching them is the initial steps of becoming a golfer," said Robert Taylor, head golf professional at Ryder. "We teach them the basics."

Often, older golfers tend to be retirees who do not like sharing the course with younger golfers, Taylor said. At junior golf clinic, children learn golf etiquette, which makes it more likely that the older generation will be willing to share the course with them.

Children are taught who tees off first when there is more than one player. They also must not talk when someone else is swinging, Taylor said.

For Morgan, her favorite activity at the junior golf clinics is going to the putting green, she said.
"You don't have to hit the ball with a lot of force. You can be a little more laid back than when hitting with my driver," she said.

Eric Henry said he wonders just how far he could hit the ball. He spent June 2 practicing his drive alongside other attendees. The farthest he has ever hit the ball is 150 yards, said the 11-year-old.

It was Henry's first time at golf camp, but he said he would return next year because golfing is a fun sport that he likes.

The goal is not to turn young golfers into Tiger Woods, said Taylor. Children are taught to simply have fun and enjoy golfing.

Gretchen McLean, a professional golf management student at Methodist University who interns at Ryder and helps to facilitate the camp, seems to enjoy the children's enthusiasm.

When players grow up, they get frustrated by not being able to make that "great shot," McLean explained. Children, on the other hand, don't know such frustration and are still excited by golf.
Like Henry, Josh Bullock, 11, also plans to attend next year, he said. The instructors have taught Bullock to hit harder and farther, but he has been most impressed with being able to make new friends, he said.

At this year's golf clinics, Taylor has seen the return of some youth from previous years. It is very good for them, because not only do children improve their golfing skills, but they also learn safety.

"All our staff emphasizes safety. We're always very cautious and careful when taking care of other people's children," Taylor said.

Morgan, too, will return as a golf camper next year, and said the staffers have been helpful.
"They help you a lot. I think I've really improved from coming here and I want to get better at golf," Morgan said. "I think that by coming back year-after-year, it'll help me become the golfer I want to become."

For more information about the junior golf clinics, call Ryder Golf Course at 907-4653 or Stryker Golf Course at 396-3980.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16