Young golfers start the season

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Every golfer has to start somewhere, and for Haymaker pro Nina Krats, it was in a junior program much like the one she is heading this summer.

Nearly 70 5- to 18-year-olds registered for the one-day Junior Golf instructional clinic held Saturday at the Haymaker Golf Course, kicking off the summer season for young golfers in Steamboat Springs.

Between chipping, pitching, putting and a full-swing station, Krats and other Haymaker pros and helpers attempted to teach or refine the technique and etiquette of dozens of enthusiastic children.

With their collared shirts and hats, the 5- to 10-year-old golfers looked like experienced professionals, even if they sometimes swung and missed the ball.

"They are the future of golf," Krats said. "Golf participation numbers are down overall, so we are finding ways to build for the future."

For the younger of two age groups at the clinic, learning the sport translated into games such as pitching balls into pools, chipping un-der a rope and following the arc of the rainbow on a golf swing.

"When I go to the full-swing station, my favorite club is the driver because the ball goes flying," 7-year-old Jesse Draper said.

This summer will be Draper's second as a golfer, but it will be 6-year-old Amy Flavell's first.

She started two weeks ago and already likes the drills that she gets to do in the Junior Golf clinics.

Krats was pleased by the number of children who registered for Saturday's session, including a large number of young girls, saying it's a great game to teach at an early age.

"They can start as young as 4 if they show an interest," Krats said.

Instruction was interspersed with contests and demonstrations, whetting the children's competitive appetites.

Draper, Gaven Van Pelt, Will Borrow, Owen McIntosh, Jesse Pugh, Andrew Firestone and Wyatt Arce had their own putting contest with coach Sue Schwartz Saturday morning.

Attention spans were short, which isn't ideal when trying to line up a put, but Schwartz managed to teach the energetic group of seven not to run on greens, not to stand too close to another putter and to hit it softer when closer to the hole.

Up next on the Junior Golf schedule at Haymaker is a one-week instructional camp scheduled for June 10-14. The younger division is already filled with a waiting list, but Krats said there are still openings for the older division.

People interested in enrolling a child in Junior Golf can call the Haymaker Golf Course at 870-1846.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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