Children and coaches in the Yampa Valley Junior Golf program stand near the driving range at Yampa Valley Golf Course on Tuesday. Yampa Valley Junior Golf has attracted more 50 golfers from ages 6 to 15 throughout the summer, teaching them values for life and about the game of golf.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Children and coaches in the Yampa Valley Junior Golf program stand near the driving range at Yampa Valley Golf Course on Tuesday. Yampa Valley Junior Golf has attracted more 50 golfers from ages 6 to 15 throughout the summer, teaching them values for life and about the game of golf.

Youth golfers learning swing, life lessons

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Tuesday saw another large turnout of youth golfers at Yampa Valley Golf Course, learning the ins and outs of the game or improving upon what they already know.

In his first year as head golf pro, David Hardison wanted to establish a strong youth golf program and came up with a 10-week program called Yampa Valley Junior Golf, which would incorporate The First Tee, a national junior golf program that teaches life values in addition to the game of the golf.

Junior Golf in Craig has been a major success in its first year, with 60 children ages six to 15 signed up, and a consistent turnout of around 50 golfers every week. Tuesday marked the seventh week in the program, which will conclude with a youth tournament Aug. 13.

“I think most of them are into it now,” said Hardison of the kids’ growing interest in golf. “We grabbed them, which is what you hope will happen.”

Yampa Valley Junior Golf focuses on a First Tee core value each week and attempts to instill positive life values by relating them to golf. But it also has gradually grown the participants’ golf game, teaching them swing mechanics and use of every type of club in the golf bag. Safety, therefore, is another key tenet of the lessons, Hardison said.

But it is the availability to actually practice golf rather than just learn about it that has some kids excited.

“A lot of times you just talk about golfing, but here we do get to practice,” said Isaac Trevenen, 12. “We get to swing and hit the ball and really learn.”

Trevenen, who will be an eighth-grader this year, said he joined Yampa Valley Junior Golf to work on his golf game and for something to break up his summer.

“I wasn’t doing much at my house and my dad likes to golf,” he said. “I thought I’d work on my game, because it’s fun when we go golfing.”

Hardison believes the First Tee core values, including respect, responsibility and judgment, are an important aspect of the program he wants to create at Yampa Valley Golf Course. He has seen many players’ swing and demeanor with a club improve on top of those life lessons.

“By (the tournament) I think they’ll understand how to play,” he said. “Some may still not be really good, but they’ll know what it takes to hit higher, or hit further or control the direction of their shots better.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com

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