Clinic links youths with golf skills
Published 9:04 pm Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Two experienced golfers got the opportunity they were seeking this week at Nansemond River Golf Club to help the future of golf in the area.
NRGC’s PGA professional Mark Lambert and Suffolk Christian Academy golf coach Mike Bigony hosted a small group of young golfers that came out for the first two days of the Suffolk Youth Golf Clinic on Monday and Tuesday.
“It’s going very well,” Lambert said of the clinic. “We have some nice young players. They’re young, so we have to kind of keep it simple.”
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A quick survey of the participants made it clear what their preferred activity was.
“Hitting” was the answer of 9-year-old Christopher White. Olivia McGahee, also 9, said, “Hitting big shots.”
“They love to hit full shots,” Lambert said, referring to the main activity on the driving range.
Other areas of the game are vitally important, but less enjoyable to youths, so Lambert arranged the activities of the Suffolk Youth Golf Clinic with that in mind.
“The putting kind of bores them,” he said, and chipping and learning rules of the game are also less appealing than full swings.
“You’ve got to mix it in.”
On Monday, Lambert covered putting, and on Tuesday, he covered chipping, but he ended both days on the driving range.
There, the instructors used what Lambert called a “hitting bag” to train the youths how to swing properly. Participants would spend some time hitting the orange bag full of towels instead of a ball, trying to hit it in the proper place and in the proper way.
“If it had been 30 years ago or 40 years ago, when I was kid, we always learned to hit (balls) with a clothesline; you lay a rug over a clothesline,” Bigony said. “If I kept my arms wrong, I would hit the clothesline with my arms, so the shaft and the club head had to hit the clothesline before my arm.”
Participants in the clinic included 15-year-old Chloe Clarke, who goes to Smithfield High School. She went to the clinic to freshen up on the game in an effort to play for her school.
“I learned something about stance,” she said. She also reported reviewing the elements of angle and distance.
Olivia McGahee, who, like Clarke, was not playing for the first time, said, “I’ve learned about direction and distance,” particularly as they related to chipping.
The youths also learned about how to properly grip the clubs for the different shots.
“That’s the most important part to the lesson, getting the grip right,” Lambert said.
The clinic featured seven participants, a number with which Lambert said he was pleased given how late he and Bigony spread the word about their inaugural clinic.
“It’s a good start,” Lambert said. “I think we’ll get a much larger number next year.”
This year’s clinic concludes on Monday, and Lambert expects the same seven golfers back, with perhaps a few more who were missing this week. He plans to re-cap putting and chipping along with the full swing.