High-five to golf's future

Junior instructional camp takes place at Sheraton golf club

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— Ten-year-old Shaq Torrella got a high-five from instructor Troy Weller after placing his putt within a couple of inches of a target Wednesday afternoon at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort and Golf Club's practice green.

It might be difficult to see it through the bright orange surfer's shorts and a dark pair of designer sunglasses, but the four-foot-something Torrella represents the future of golf here in Steamboat Springs.

"I love to see the young kids out here," instructor Troy Weller said. "These are the kids who will grow up to be members of the high school golf team."

Weller is leading the four-day junior instructional camp at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort and golf course, which stresses the basics of the game. Weller opened Wednesday's session by having the players put down their putters and toss golf balls back and forth to one another underhand across the green -- an exercise designed to teach players distance control through touch and feel.

"We've worked on a little bit of everything this week," Weller said. "Everything from the short game to the full swing. They are just kids, but I would like to see them develop an understanding of the golf swing and to learn to love the game."

During the past three days, Weller, who worked at the John Jacobs Golf School in Arizona before coming to the Sheraton five years ago, has met with a group of 11 dedicated players from 1 to 4 p.m. His goal is to pass on his knowledge and that love for the game to the next generation of golfers between shifts on the putting green and the driving range.

"I just want to get better, every day I'm here" Torrella said.

The junior golfer, who harbors dreams of being the next Tiger Woods, said he has already learned some valuable lessons this week -- including the best way to get out of those treacherous sand traps.

"He taught me to hit the sand and not the ball," Torrella said. "You don't want to hear that 'ping' when you strike the ball."

Torrella said he attends several camps each summer and has been a regular at the Sheraton, Haymaker and Steamboat Golf Club.

"I like to play golf every day," he said. "I spend most of my summer at the golf course."

Fifteen-year-old Dillon Jenkins also is hoping to improve his game this week. He works at the Sheraton when he isn't playing, so making the choice to attend the camp was easy.

"I changed my swing this week and I'm hitting the ball a lot better," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he normally doesn't attend camps but said he found this week's sessions with Weller helpful.

"I don't go to a lot of camps," Jenkins said. "But this one has been good."

Jenkins at the other juniors on the course this week will get another chance July 14th when Weller hosts a playing camp at the Sheraton. Weller isn't sure how the camp will be structured, but encourages anyone interested to call the Sheraton pro shop at 879-1391.

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