MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Every child at one point in their life wants to be a sports athlete. Be it a football star, basketball champion, or home-run hitter in baseball. Now, children had their eyes opened to another, less-thought about sport-golf.
The 3-Day Junior Golf Clinic offered to children ages 8 through 18, gave military children a chance to try their knack in what is known as a ‘gentleman’s and lady’s sport.’
“Golf is much more than just driving the golf ball into the hole,” said Rick Kunkle a professional golfer and manager of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s Paradise Point Golf Course. “Here, we also teach them about etiquette and how to properly play golf.”
The clinic was separated into different age groups, one consisted of all the golfers who were 8 to 10 years old and the other group was for those who were 11 through 18 years old. This was to focus on different aspects of the game. While the younger group focused on teaching the game, the older group also learned about proper techniques, etiquette and manners expected from all players and onlookers.
Throughout the day, children were taught how to properly hold a golf club, what stance should look like and how to properly swing the club.
“We’re doing this for the future of golf,” said Kunkle. “If we can get them involved and generate interest then maybe some may look to this as a sport they would enjoy. Golf doesn’t have leagues or teams so we have to work to generate interest.”
Children learned how to chip and pitch a golf ball. Chipping is when the ball is hit from short range, usually around the ‘green.’ Pitching is similar to chipping, but the ball is at a greater distance.
Kunkle also took time to talk to the older children about courtesies in the game of golf.
“Watch how you step, and the swing of the club,” said Kunkle. “If you turn up some turf, be courteous and correct it. If your ball is in another golfer’s way, replace the ball with a quarter or a nickel, something that will let you know where your ball was.”
The children also took a shot at the driving range, with some hitting the golf ball 100 yards. At the end of the day, each child went home knowing just a bit more about golf. And if it appealed to them, they know they would have a place to practice their swing.
“We’re not here to find the next Tiger Woods, just spark their curiosity, and if I can do that, then I’ve done my job,” said Kunkle. “I grew up on a golf course, so passing on what I’ve learned to these children, the future golfers, is something very important to me.”