North Shore youngsters tee off
There are no fairways, sand traps or doglegs, quite yet. Just a few oversized squeaking clubs, some coloured tennis balls and a handful of rubber tees.
But if a couple of the elementary school kids participating in this year’s North Shore Public Golf Society’s introduction to golf program go on to play the sport on their own, says Dan Ellis, then it’s mission accomplished.
“I was exposed to golf when I was 15 and I regret [that it wasn’t earlier.] When you’re young you have that much more of a chance to improve and grow with the sport,” says Ellis.
“There’s a real attraction to this sport right now and if we can get kids enthralled by being out in nature and the challenge of competing against oneself, then they’ll be hooked for life.”
Formed in 1985 to promote the need for more public golf courses on the North Shore, the public golf society played an integral role in the creation of the Northlands course, opened in 1997. A couple years after that ribbon cutting, the society turned their attention to giving North Shore youngsters a glimpse at what a round on the links is like.
Although free of the frustration, anger and club throwing that might accompany a typical round with friends or clients, the program has had more than 1,000 kids — those between Grade 3 and Grade 6 — from 10 elementary schools participate.
Capilano elementary school student Mackenzie Blackman, 9, told The Outlook that this wasn’t her first time swinging a club and said a love a golf runs in her family — her grandfather plays every day.
“I think it’s a really good experience to learn more about golf and have fun. I like trying to get it up in the air and get a hard shot,” says Mackenzie.
“And you have to use some strategy to get the ball in the net or whatever.”
All of the society’s hour-long elementary school sessions are run by professionals, or assistant pros, from the Seymour Golf and Country Club or the Bowen Island Golf Club. For those looking to enroll their kids in summertime golf lessons, the Seymour course offers a junior camp in July and August. Sessions run four times a week for three hours a day and are open to the public. Those between eight and 16 years of age are welcome.
“The kids always have a great time. Things are changing and kids are getting introduced at a young age,’ sys Lenny Cyr, and assistant pro at Seymour Golf and Country club and one of the session instructors at Capilano elementary.
“But we love reaching out to those who may not get to experience golf.”