By Monica Wood, FMWROctober 20, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Fort Sill has a beautiful golf course and a new golf learning center available to post residents, Soldiers, retirees and employees.
Now the facilities are also available to Cameron University students thanks to a partnership between Cameron University Sports programs and Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
The partnership is one of many formed through the Army Community Covenant to benefit Fort Sill and its neighbors in the Southwest Oklahoma community.
"We have been working this partnership with Cameron in an attempt to increase interest in golf and teach the protocols of golf," said Brenda Spencer-Ragland, FMWR director. "I'm really excited to do this and want to highlight our tremendous investment in our course and our commitment to growing golf while we teach and respect the fine discipline of the sport."
Cameron coach Todd Holland and his 12 students meet weekly at the new golf learning center to learn the fundamentals. Lessons include practicing the correct stance, follow-through on the swing, which club to use for a particular shot and how to use a wedge correctly.
Spencer-Ragland said the Army is trying to get more young Soldiers interested in the game.
"We want young Soldiers that are students at Cameron to take an elective in golf because it is a great way to build fitness, reduce stress and learn a life skill that will assist in developing strong resiliency skills."
The latest partnership with Cameron sports is one of many MWR is working.
"Jim Jackson, Cameron sports director, and I are working to bring coaches university to Fort Sill Youth Services," she said. "He will be using his graduate students and faculty to teach our coaches the fundamentals of coaching, both for youth and adults."
Most post coaches are volunteers. The coaches university classes are a wonderful opportunity for coaches to learn more about coaching at no cost, she said.
"It's truly a win-win situation because the grad students will get a credit, develop and enhance a core competency in teaching, and we get quality instruction for our first-time volunteer coaches. The volunteer coaches benefit too because they will get professional development they can add to their portfolio."
According to Holland, his students have been using the learning center and the golf course.
"It's an eight week course so the first four weeks are more instruction and the second four weeks we go and play on the course and practice what they learned," he said.
"I think the learning center is a wonderful asset for beginning golfers and people who don't feel comfortable on the course and are unsure of what to do. They can go to the learning center where it's quiet, and they can figure out the fundamentals of golf before going to the course. The best thing about the new learning center is that it's free," Holland said.
"The most important aspect of golf is the short game, which is what the center addresses from putting to chipping. There's even a bunker there to practice on. I think the students are learning a lot about their short game and they don't have to go a long way to retrieve the ball," said Holland.
Classes next semester will be offered in the evening from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to make it more accessible for Soldiers and students who work during the day.
Holland said the class will use the learning center and the driving range with new stadium lights.
"It will offer more accessibility and meet the demand for those students who can't take a class at 11 a.m.," he said.
According to Fort Sill golf pro Ernie Altic, around 90 percent of the students enrolled in the class are new to golf.
"Some people are intimidated by getting on the golf course. The learning center can get them comfortable with the game of golf but the ultimate goal is to get these new golfers out on the course and driving range," he said.