Longtime training on the links continues

Published 12:04 am Saturday, July 19, 2014

Two significant figures in the Suffolk golf community have put together an opportunity next week for boys and girls ages 9-17 to learn about and grow in the game of golf at Nansemond River Golf Club.

Mike Bigony was planning to put together an event to benefit Suffolk Christian Academy’s golf team, which he coaches, but then he said the question was asked, “Why don’t we just do one city-wide?

Nansemond River Golf Club's PGA professional Mark Lambert will be an instructor during the upcoming three-day Suffolk Youth Golf Clinic. “We've been supportive of junior golf since we've been in business,” he said of the club.

Nansemond River Golf Club’s PGA professional Mark Lambert will be an instructor during the upcoming three-day Suffolk Youth Golf Clinic. “We’ve been supportive of junior golf since we’ve been in business,” he said of the club.

He said Mark Lambert, the PGA professional at Nansemond River Golf Club, was thinking about it, and the two decided on a series of one-hour training sessions on July 21, 22 and 28, respectively, for the low cost of $15.

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“We’re providing a little lunch for (campers),” Bigony said. “That’s the only thing we’re incurring the cost for.”

Lambert looks forward to being an instructor at the event, known as the Suffolk Youth Golf Clinic, citing the task as the chief responsibility of the PGA pro.

“Teaching is what we do,” he said.

And he has a long history of working with youth on the links.

“I was at Suffolk Golf Course for 20 years as the head pro there, and in those days, I would do a junior clinic,” he said.

Drawing on his experience as a successful player, Lambert has helped produce a variety of success stories, as well.

“He was very influential with me and with what happened with my golf career, for sure,” said Sean Dougherty, head golf professional at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan.

Dougherty recalled all the lengths Lambert went to in order to stoke the interest of young people in the sport.

“He would just do whatever he could to support junior golf,” Dougherty said.

Lambert has continued that tradition at Nansemond River Golf Club, where he has hosted two national Amateur Athletic Union junior championships and the Virginia High School League Group AAA state championship, among other events.

Over the course of the upcoming clinic sessions, running from 9 to 10 a.m. each day, Lambert intends to teach the three major areas of the game: putting, chipping and the full swing.

“We’ll cover etiquette as we go through it,” he said. “We’ll also teach bunker play, as well, how to get out of the bunker.”

He encouraged youths to come out, because learning golf at a young age is key. And if they eventually leave the sport, it is one they will likely pick up later in life when they cannot continue playing other sports.

Lambert noted the joy seniors still got from the game during a recent event at NRGC.

“They like playing today as much as they did when they were kids,” he said.

To pre-register or for more information, call 539-4356 or email bigony@charter.net. Registration will be open until Monday morning, when those interested can show up in person at 8:45 a.m.

Participants with clubs should bring them, but they are not required. Bigony advised they wear a polo shirt, shorts and a hat.