Junior golf in midst of boom

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— Nina Krats has been busy this summer.

As the director of junior golf for the Haymaker Golf Course in Steamboat Springs, Krats has experienced the increasing interest in golf among youths.

Last summer, all of Hay-

maker's junior instructional programs sold out and several added waitlists. The programs include two introductory clinics, six instructional clinics and three play days.

Krats said the interest hasn't faded this summer. This year's camp, scheduled for July 24 to 27, has only two open slots remaining. There also has been strong interest in the course's Skills Challenge and the Haymaker Junior Championships.

"My first intro clinic was sold out two weeks before it happened," Krats said. "I think a lot of the growth was a direct result of being on the Internet. More than 70 percent of the players who took part in the clinics this year did it online."

Junior golfers also can participate in the Skills Challenge and playing camps as well as several tournaments.

The annual Skills Challenge, for players between the ages of 6 and 18, features five or six stations that test what the players learned during the clinics. Players will be scored on how well they do at each station, and the day will end with an awards ceremony and prizes.

Like the clinics, the Skills Challenge also was a popular choice among golfers. The event was sold out a month ago, but Krats said interested players can call to put their names on a waitlist.

"Right now, we have 33 players taking part," Krats said. "I'll do my best to get as many players as our staff and space will allow."

The Skills Challenge is just a preview of the junior tournament season, which begins July 25 with the Yampa River Junior Classic at the Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig. The tournament typically draws a large field of golfers from Steamboat and Craig. The tournament offers divisions starting with the 5-and-younger class and ending with a division for high school players. The cost to enter is $10 for players 9 and younger and $15 for players 10 and older. Younger divisions will play four holes, and the older divisions will compete on a nine- or 18-hole course.

On July 26, the action moves to Steamboat Springs for the annual Cowboy Shootout at the Steamboat Golf Club. The event offers divisions for golfers ranging in age from six to 18. The entry fee is $20 and includes golf, lunch and prizes.

The junior tournament run will come to a close in August with the Haymaker Junior Championships on Aug. 1 and the course's annual Parent-Junior Tournament scheduled for Aug. 6.

The Haymaker Junior Cham-

pionships are open to any player between the ages of six and 18 as long as they have taken part in a junior program and have an understanding of golf rules and etiquette. The cost to enter is $40 and includes use of the practice range, lunch and prizes. Players 6 and 7 years old will play five holes, players 8 to 13 will play nine holes, and players older than 13 will play 18 holes.

Krats said the Parent-Junior Tournament is a great chance for parents to get on the course with their children.

The tournament features a family-friendly atmosphere, and Krats said it's a great way to spend a Sunday.

-- To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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