Junior golf program to tee off

This is a special summer for 5-year-old Connor Etzler. It's the first summer he's old enough to participate in a junior golf clinic.

"Connor's been with me on the golf course all of his life," Yampa Valley Golf Course Professional Brett Etzler said. "He's excited to not have to ride along in the child seat on the golf cart anymore."

Etzler and Professional Ann Marie Hamilton share duties for the Yampa River Junior Golf Association.

The program starts Tuesday with the first day of a three-day clinic. Children ages 5 to 8 will get instruction from 8 to 9:15 a.m.; children ages 9 to 12 meet from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.; and children ages 13 to 17 meet from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The cost is $25 per child for the clinic.

Sign-up for the clinic is available now at the YVGC clubhouse.

Etzler, Hamilton and other golfers, including high school golfers who initially learned through the YVJGA, help teach the clinics.

"It's rewarding for us to see a junior golfer hit the ball with a smile on their face," Etzler said. "Golf is a sport that draws you in once you hit that one good shot."

The listed goals for the clinics are to promote and appreciation for the game, teach the basic principles of the game and develop golf skills, sportsmanship and comradeship.

"It's good to introduce the game at a young age," Etzler said. "We do it in a fun way that we hope gives them a life interest for the sport."

There are clubs available for use during the clinic, and the pro shop is starting to stock more junior clubs for pur--chase, Etzler said.

Oth--er opportunities through the summer for junior golfers include five junior play days -- June 12 and 19, July 10 and 24 and Aug. 14 -- from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. The green fees for those days are $5 unless the golfer is a season pass holder. A Yampa Valley Golf Junior Pass is $90 for the summer.

"The play days allow the golfers to become acquainted with the course," Etzler said. "They don't have to have us watching over their shoulder the entire time."

The showcase event for the young golfers is the Yampa River Junior Golf Classic on July 25. The cost for the tournament is $10 for children ages 9 and younger and $15 for children ages 10 and older.

Sign up for the tournament begins July 1.

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