By KENNY LARABEE Sports Editor Jun 6, 2016
Maryville Daily Forum
With sunny skies and pristine stretches of green awaiting them, area youth took to the Watson 9 at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park to learn about the game of golf Saturday in the first of four youth camps scheduled for this summer.
The three-day camps, open to children ages five through 17, teach players the rules of golf, etiquette and skills such as chipping, putting and teeing off. Designed by golfing legend Tom Watson, the Watson 9 opened earlier this year and is a hybrid course created specifically with youth – and youth instruction – in mind.
Golfers at the camp began the first day by moving from one practice station to another, learning about different aspects of the sport at each stop. With changes in the camp’s format and one of the best practice facilities in the country, according to Mozingo Lake Golf Course Head Professional Kyle Easter, the first day went to the resident pro’s liking.
“Being that this is the first time we’ve done this sort of camp style, I thought it went really well,” Easter said. “It was nice to have a little more time than we used to. We don’t have to rush around and we can hit on a variety of different things, golf-wise. So it was really nice in that aspect of it.”
Golfers at the camp are divided by age group, with older age groups learning more advanced techniques, like pre-shot routines, Easter said.
The purpose of the camp is to get as many kids involved with golf as possible, Easter said. Three more camps are scheduled for this summer, beginning June 25, July 16 and July 30. Each camp costs $40 and last three days. Financial aid and clubs are available to those that need them as well, making the program accessible to all, Easter said.
“Any kid that wants to be part of the program, we want them to have the opportunity,” Easter said. “If there’s any interest at all, let us help them build that interest.”
Brooke Byland, one of the camp’s instructors, said that the benefits of the camp should entice area youth to give it a try.
“Definitely come out,” Byland said. “Golf’s a life-long sport. If they start early, they can play it throughout their entire life.”
Registration for the remaining three camps is available at the Maryville Community Center, among other locations throughout the area, and online at Mozingolake.com.
And although the primary purpose of the camp is to teach area youth about golf, having fun also ranks high.
“Come out, have some fun, enjoy the new golf course,” Easter said. “Enjoy being outside following a little white ball around.”