Youngsters get into the swing of things
As some of the world’s top golfers teed off at the U.S. Open this week, some less well-known golfers were starting their own golf legacy at the Park City Golf Club (PCGC).
The Junior Golf Camp a week-long experience held every summer at the area’s only public course for youngsters ages 7-12, allows children to learn the sport and begin to develop skills and a love for the game.
For camp organizer and PCGC assistant pro, Cynthia Brown, the camps are a labor of love for her and the club’s other pros.
"That’s why we support I — these kids keep golf thriving," Brown said. "We need to make it accessible."
PCGC assistant pro Ken Stenmark agrees.
"It’s the future of the game. We’re all involved, because we love golf," Stenmark said.
The face of golf is changing. As young golfers like Michelle Wie, Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam continue to shine on the international golf scene, more and more kids are getting into the game.
"Golf itself is evolving, because of young stars coming in," Brown said
"The camps are getting better behaved, because there’s more interest. A lot of these kids know the stars," said Ken Stenmark, who teaches a teen camp in the afternoon with fellow pro, Vaughn Robinson. "The type of kids that are coming is changing dramatically. Now it’s by choice."
The campers are also getting younger. Almost half of the first camp session was made up of seven and eight-year olds.
"I’ve never seen this many young kids," Brown said.
Brown says that learning the game as a child is ideal, because retention seem to be much easier.
"They look you in the eye and do it," Brown said. "They are like sponges now."
The camp covers a little bit of everything in many different ways. Brown, with the help of the other pros, teaches proper technique, rules and course design through both audio and visual methods. Participating pros, including Stenmark, Robinson, Jon DeBoer and Shawn Anderson, a pro at Mick Riley in Salt Lake, go though all of the facets of the game and help the kids with their chipping and putting. Midweek, the campers do a course walk-through with the pros while various rules and regulations are demonstrated. Later on in the day, a test is given.
"This is one of the few camps that does an interactive rules clinic," Brown explains.
The final day is what Brown describes as "graduation day," as parents go out with groups of four on the back nine holes and witness what their children have learned.
"It’s funner now. I know what I’m doing," said satisfied camper Evan DeGray, age 9. He plans on taking his clubs on a family trip to Moab this weekend, so he can continue practicing.
Many of the kids are first timers, who may have only played with their parents a few times or never before. Others have been attending camp for years in a row.
The Perry family has been coming to the camp for a few years. Siblings Hunter and Ciera became interested in the game, because both the parents and grandparents are avid golfers.
"I’ve been golfing my whole life, so I want my kids to learn, because it’s so much harder when you’re older," said mom Heidi Perry.
Ciera, a middle schooler, hopes to eventually join the Park City High School golf team. It could happen. Stenmark says that many former golf camp attendees are now playing high school and college golf. Ciera brought first timer Kelsi Vik along with her to camp this year. Despite being the two oldest campers, they both had a great time.
"The coaches were really fun. They were good at explaining things," Vik said.
Eleven-year-old Charlie Moffat has been to camps both at the PCGC and Jeremy Ranch and has been pursuing the game ever since his grandpa told him that he should try the sport. Kyle Beling, 10, a return camper, also became interested in the game because of his grandparents.
Ben Lykes has been coming to camp for two years in a row and says that his swing is getting better every year.
Clubs are provided for kids without their own clubs, but many carry their own golf bags. Cindy receives donations of both balls and clubs all year long from various clients and pros to help supply the kids with quality equipment.
Carter Reynolds, 10, comes with his own equipment, complete with golf shoes. He golfs every other week and plans to play golf for fun for the rest of his life and enjoys working with the pros to improve his game.
"I enjoy it when we go out on the course and the instructors play," Reynolds said.
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Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work.