Bridger Boyd had a decision to make.
When he accepted his medal from golf instructor Nina Krats he could either shake her hand or bend his head so he wouldn't have to put down his new golf ball and chocolate cookies.
He chose the latter.
Boyd was among 20 children enrolled in Haymaker's first Little Chippers program designed to introduce the youngest of golfers to the basics of putting, chipping, the full swing, golf etiquette and safety.
The three-week clinic held May 15, May 22 and Saturday was a huge success, Krats said.
"At age 4 or 5, they are little sponges," Krats said. "They listen and are interested in trying something new. Some had never picked up a club."
Twenty children and their parents, grandparents or another adult worked with Krats and instructors Dave Keesee, Alan Komer, Brian Thomas and John Cash through the rain, wind and cold to learn the sport.
Holes were designed near Haymaker's practice areas to enable the children to begin to understand what it's like to tee off, get near the green and then putt in. Haymaker bought new equipment called SNAG, or Starting New at Golf, to make it easier. The clubs were shorter, weighted and had oversize heads so the children had little trouble striking the ball.
"My favorite part was when
I got it in the hole," Fischer Matthews, 3, said.
Krats said teaching children is easier because they don't have any bad habits, and it was encouraging to see how much enthusiasm the children had for the sport after just three weeks.
Hallie Myhre, 5, showed up Saturday prepared for the weather. When it started to rain and many of the children ran toward the clubhouse, Myhre stayed out to finish the holes in her bright green raincoat.
Little Chippers was new to Haymaker this season, but the program sold out quickly. The first two weeks were spent in instruction with limited hole play. Saturday, a mini-tournament was set up, though the scores mattered little to the children.
Those who completed the three-week clinic were given juice, cookies, a medal and a golf ball to take home.
"It was really successful," Krats said. "We'd teach a skill, and the parents would reinforce it. This is one more sport parents and kids can play together."
Teaching children how to golf is a priority for the Haymaker Golf Course, where Krats said instructors spend the winters developing the clinics they'll teach during the spring and summer.
While Little Chippers is over, there are many more opportunities for juniors and their parents to get out to Haymaker to learn to golf or build on what they already know about the sport.
Instruction clinics for golfers ages 6 to 18 will be offered in June and July with a separate tournament to follow for those interested. Dates of the clinics are June 7, 21, July 5 and July 19. The tournaments are on June 8, 22, July 6 and 20. Krats said there are slots available in the various age groups.
In addition, a parent/junior skills challenge is being held Aug. 7 and a parent/junior tournament is being held Aug. 8. The tournament will be a modified stableford-scoring event.
Anyone seeking more information on Haymaker's Junior Golf Program can stop by the course and pick up information, call the club at 870-1846 or visit the Web site at www.haymakerjuniorgolf.com.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org