Craig kids grow their game at Yampa Valley Golf Course’s Junior Golf Academy |

Craig kids grow their game at Yampa Valley Golf Course’s Junior Golf Academy

Rod Compton gathers with students of the Junior Golf Academy Sunday at Yampa Valley Golf Course. Compton and fellow instructor John Doane worked with young athletes on their game with classes this summer.
Andy Bockelman

From short game to long game, every great golfer had to start somewhere, and the next big name in the sport may have been harnessing their skills over the past few weeks at Yampa Valley Golf Course.

The Junior Golf Academy at YVGC wrapped up its summer sessions this week as young athletes played a quick round to demonstrate their new knowledge. Nine players, as young as 8, were able to squeeze in three holes Sunday before a burst of rain.

Instructors Rod Compton and John Doane saw about two dozen total golfers taking classes, most starting in June.

The second round of classes began in late July before ending its run this week.

“We worked on putting the first week, chipping the second week, because those are the two most important things, and last week we worked on irons, then this week it was drivers,” Compton said. “They kind of got the all-around experience.”

He added that he saw some “great shots” showing lessons had sunk in as kids played the seventh, eighth and ninth holes at YVGC.

“I think we only had two who had never played or been out here, but I think the ones that just started got a really good taste of what a fun game it can be,” he said. “Some are just learning how to hold the club and some of the older kids have been doing it for a while, so they’ve already got an idea of how to hit the ball. The younger you start them, the better they’re going to be.”

Chloe Whitaker, 11, has attended the classes for several years but continues to pick up crucial facets of the game.

“To keep my head down and use my shoulders,” she said of the most important things she’s learned.

Jayden Evenson, 10, said driving is the best part of golf.

“If you get good at it, it’s really fun to hit it,” he said.

Working on his chipping was part of his goal to improve this summer, including judging distances and the swing itself.

“Don’t move your back foot,” he said, demonstrating his stance.

While not entirely new to the sport, Oliver Browning, 8, got more interested in golf in the past month.

“I had just finished soccer, and I wanted another sport to play,” he said.

Oliver’s mother, Cyme, noted that his enthusiasm was great to see.

“I’ve never seen him more excited to get up on a Monday morning than he was to come out here and play,” she laughed.