Swinging for the fun of it

Junior golf clinic all about having a good time

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He might not have the terminology exactly right, but four-year-old Luke Pleasant was definitely excited about his experience during Thursday's Yampa River Junior Golf Clinic.

"I got the ball in the goal," he said. "I also won this bag for chipping good."

Pearson was one of 72 youths to participate in the three-day clinic that started Tuesday. He won a Yampa Valley Golf Course tee bag for a closest-to-the-hole chipping contest.

"We try to make it as fun as we can," YVGC Professional Brett Etzler said. "We have a lot of competitions to make it interesting."

Etzler joked that he cleaned out his garage so he could make a miniature golf course. On one of the course's putting greens, he laid out several putt-putt like holes with golf clubs, hockey skates, snowboards, skis and a hiking pack.

"It's extreme sports putt-putt," he joked.

The clinic was divided into three age groups, 5-8, 9-12 and 13-17. The 5 to 8 age group had the largest turnout with 32 golfers.

"It's encouraging to see that many in the youngest group," Etzler said. "Hopefully, we can keep them interested as they get older."

Kaleb McKey and Amber Nicholson, who will be seniors on their golf teams at Moffat County High School next year, served as coaches for the clinic. Both said part of their love for golf grew from the junior program.

"I can remember looking up to the high schoolers when I was little," McKey said. "It has been fun to help them out the same way I was helped when I grew up."

McKey said the aspect he enjoyed the most about the clinic was the competition.

"We were always competing for some sort of prize," he said. "Now as a coach, I try to make it competitive for the kids."

Thursday was full of competitions.

Carter Severson, 5, was wearing a hat that he won for chipping.

"I hit the ball this close to the hole," he said, touching his two index fingers together. "Everything was fun."

Nicholson said she was still adjusting to being a coach.

"I still feel like I'm a kid, and I should be getting the lessons," she said. "It's fun to have (the junior golfers) looking up to us."

Miranda Baysinger, 10, was one of the campers that looked up to the high school instructors. "They are pretty good," she said. "I've learned something new every day."

This was her second year at the clinic. "I've improved a lot every year," she said. "What I've learned the most is that golf is fun."

And that is exactly why they put it on.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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