Need something to do on a Saturday afternoon with the kids? How about a round of golf? It may not be as far fetched as you think. Golf is becoming an increasingly popular sport with youths and with the demand, the price is now within reach.
Creekside Plantation, located off Boyds Creek Rd. in Seymour, is becoming a popular stopping place for some of the children in the area. One of the course owners, Barry Shular, grew up in Seymour and graduated from Seymour High in 1980.
“I always dreamed about building a golf course and Creekside was really a dream come true,” said the father of two small boys. Shular looks at the golf course as his own back yard, literally. His home is located on the course and his sons have grown up around golf. “We always planned on making the golf course a good place for people to come for family entertainment, in a good environment. We do not serve alcohol in the clubhouse and kids are always welcome to golf here.”
That is a change from golf of the past where on most courses, signs reading, “Children age 12 and under not allowed on Course” was commonplace. If you look at the statistics of who plays golf and at what age, you will see that everyone from the young to the old plays golf. Many families are joining golf clubs, with some clubs offering special deals for 2 adults and 2 children when joining.
Creekside Plantation is adding to the trend by hosting a weekly Junior Clinic every Friday evening from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the summer months. The cost of the clinic is $10 per session. Range balls are provided for all participants. The price is definitely in keeping with family entertainment by being low cost. “The price is good,” stated Keli Hodges whose five-year-old daughter Alexis has been taking a swing at things. “There are not many girls that play and I thought if she wanted to play now was the time to get her started. She loves it and she’s doing well at it. I didn’t think I could do the sessions until I found out they were only $10, which is much less than private lessons.”
The kids instructor, Asst. Pro Jared Morenko, has been with the course for about a year and a half and spends a great deal of time with the children and helps them to perfect their swing. “We average 6-10 kids a week coming out now for the clinic. The kids love it,” stated Morenko. He continued with, “I’d rather teach kids than adults. They have so much fun and they don’t think they are going to be pros after the 1st lesson. They take to it so much easier.”
The golf course manager Eric Smith said that they have children coming to play all the time. “It’s usually daughters and sons coming to play with their dads. The students from the middle school golf team come over frequently to play.” Both the Seymour Middle School and High School have golf teams as well as Kings Academy. Smith explained that the course is really set up for kids. “The course is set up for junior golfers. We are part of the First Tee program, which lays out the course for children. For instance, a typical hole is about 150 yards as opposed to the regular course which is about 450 yards.” The golf course as a whole is 6500 yards for an 18-hole play. The First Tee program is a World Golf Foundation initiative created for the purpose of providing affordable golf access to everyone, especially kids, who otherwise might not have an opportunity to play. The mission of The First Tee is to impact the lives of young people around the world by creating affordable and accessible golf facilities to primarily serve those who have not previously had exposure to the game and its positive values. The First Tee sites are located throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. Today The First Tee has over 130 facilities in development, and there are 53 facilities open. The First Tee Headquarters is located at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL. Smith stated, “Our program includes learning rules of the game, etiquette, and lessons on the driving range and putting instruction on the practice green.”
Research conducted by the National Golf Foundation revealed that only two percent of children aged twelve to seventeen ever try golf and that only five percent of this nation’s golfers were minorities. Studies showed that the major barrier to attracting more children, and especially economically disadvantaged children, to the game was the lack of places that welcomed them, places they could physically get to, and places that they could afford. The First Tee was created to address these access and affordability issues.
This initiative, which was announced November of 1997, is overseen and has the active support of a committee comprised of the commissioners of the PGA TOUR and the Ladies Professional Golf Association, the chief executive officer of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, a past president of the United States Golf Association and the general manager of Augusta National Golf Club. In addition, former president George Bush serves as Honorary Chairman.
One young player from Seymour, eleven-year-old Maggie Dew, has been attending the Junior Clinics. “I’ve been playing golf on and off since I was 7 or 8. “I play with my dad a lot and really like it,” stated Dew.
Besides the First Tee program on Friday evenings, Creekside Plantation Golf Course is offering a variety of golf events including Couples Golf, 2 & 4 person scrambles and a soon-to-be senior’s night. The driving range is open from dusk to dawn for practice with balls available for $5 for 50 balls or $3 for 25 balls. For more information on any of the programs the course has to offer you can contact Eric Smith at 577-4653.
Not just for adults: Kids golf is getting into the swing of things