Nina Krats attacked the layers of packing tape sealing a large, brown package with the same enthusiasm a child would use to open presents on Christmas morning.
Once Krats, Haymaker's director of junior golf, has broken through the tape, she reveals what is hidden inside and the reason for her youthful enthusiasm: Brightly colored golf clubs, oversized golf balls and a variety of different types of targets.
The equipment is for a Starting New at Golf program to make it easier to introduce golf to children 6 and younger.
Krats will use the equipment, which fits neatly into a rolling case, to set up small courses so younger children can experience the game for the first time. The clubs with oversized heads and the tennis-like balls look like toys -- but they're not. The weight and feel of the equipment simulates the game but makes it easier for younger players by keeping them interested.
The SNAG program will be just one of the many things golfers and their parents will be exposed to during a junior golf open house scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. May 8 at Haymaker.
The open house also will be a chance to meet the golf staff at Haymaker, learn about and sign up for the 2004 programs, which begin May 15, and see the latest in junior golf equipment. There also will be a raffle, a putting contest and refreshments available.
Registration forms for the summer programs are available at the Haymaker pro shop, Christy Sports and the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreational Services offices on Howelsen Parkway. Juniors who register before May 1 will get a free junior range card.
Space is limited in many of the programs. More than 200 golfers between the ages of 6 and 18 took part in the junior program last year.
Krats hopes the addition of the SNAG program and changes in the way some of the other programs are structured will make the programs even stronger this year.
"We want to have more parent involvement," Krats said. "We have also shifted some of the ages, so that our programs are more focused on specific ages."
For the first time, Haymaker will offer Little Chippers for 4- and 5-year-old golfers. The 1 1/2 hour clinics introduce the youngsters to the game. Children and parents will become familiar with the Haymaker facilities and will participate in a number of instructional stations covering the basics of putting, chipping and full swing. The sessions will run from 9:30 to 11 a.m. May 15, 22 and 29. The cost is $20 per session or $55 for all three. Parents are required to participate.
Haymaker will offer introductory clinics covering rules and etiquette May 15, full swing, pitching, chipping and putting clinic May 22, and a skills contest May 29.
This year, golfers ages 6 to 9 will attend sessions starting at 1 p.m. Golfers ages 10 to 18 will begin at 3:30 p.m. Sessions are $20 for one or $55 for all three.
Golfers also can take part in instructional clinics in June and July. The two-hour clinics meet Mondays and will focus on improving the juniors' overall skills in full swing and short game. The program's goal is to fine-tune the juniors' skills so they can enjoy the game of gold.
For those sessions, which meet June 7, June 21, July 5 and July 19, golfers will be divided into three age groups. The 6 to 9 age division will meet at 8 a.m., the 10 to 12 group will meet at 10:30 a.m, and the 13 to 18 group will meet at 2 p.m.
Sessions are $25 each or $90 for all four.
Haymaker also will offer a Junior Tournament Series this year for golfers ages 6 to 18.
The events include a scramble, three club and alternate shot format. Tee times will begin at 7 a.m. and will require registration the Sunday before the event. The cost is $15 per event, and they will take place June 8, June 22, July 6 and July 20.
Other events will include a parent-junior skills challenge and a parent-junior golf tournament.