Golf skills — and a good dose of life skills. That’s what instructor Valerie Beebe has in mind for the young students that are taking her weekly classes at the Hope Golf Club.
Beebe, who travels up from Chilliwack on Thursdays, is working with kids from age four through 15 in three groups: newcomers, transition-to-golf and league play.
While prepping her group of league players before they headed out on the course last Thursday, she tells them they would be doing a round under the guidance of pro shop manager, Mike Richmond.
“When you meet him, I want you to shake his hand and tell him your name,” she coaches the young lads.
And when Richmond appears, the boys do as they were instructed.
Life skills… reinforced on the golf course.
As a favour to any other golfers who may be using the course when the juniors are on it, Beebe has the players make their opening tee shots at 150 yards from the green to speed up their game. As they progress in their play, she says, they will gradually work their way back to the tee boxes.
“Be ready,” she tells the boys. “Don’t make other people wait. That’s the number one complaint about juniors.”
Beebe shows the boys how to choose the order of opening tee-offs by spinning a tee and seeing who it points to.
She watches the first shots, then leaves the foursome under Richmond’s care and returns to the driving range, to set up for the age four to eight SNAG (Starting New at Golf) group.
Due to the Rick Hansen celebration, numbers are down from the normal nine, so Morgan Lebsack, and Ryan and Abigail Bethel will be getting extra individualized attention from Beebe.
Before they can even take a whack at a ball, Beebe has a chat with them about what they learned last week.
“What was that big word?” asks Beebe.
After some time, Abigail comes up with “etiquette” and the boys add that they need to be respectful and use their manners on the golf course.
Beebe bubbles with pride. These kids can go to the top of the class.
Abigail’s mom, Yvette, is amazed as well.
She says she only heard about the lessons by chance, when they came to see the classic car meet that stopped in at the golf course a few weekends ago.
“I’m not a golfer and I was surprised that my kids wanted to take lessons — but they’re loving it!” says Yvette.
Back to the lesson, Beebe has each child stand in a round hoop called a ‘clock.’ The clock has markings on it to guide the children in their strokes. Being in the clock ensures that they are a safe distance from other golfers, once the clubs begin to swing.
The kids practice stroking with imaginary clubs in their hands, then they get their SNAG clubs and clip a little brush onto lower end of the shaft. The brush extends slightly below the club head, so the kids can practice lightly brushing the ground as they swing.
Once they get a feel for that skill, the brushes come off and they get to hit some balls. The SNAG balls are colourful tennis-sized weighted balls that stick nicely to the velcro targets that are part of the SNAG system.
In each lesson of the six-week program, Beebe intends to introduce a character trait that will help the kids when they play the game — and when they step off the course and into the rest of their lives.
“I use words like honesty, integrity, loyalty, pride and courage and I ask the kids how they would implement these in the game and in life,” says Beebe.
Older players will improve their golf savvy by learning definitions, such as ‘addressing the ball’ and ‘water hazard’ and how they apply in the game, says Beebe.
“It’s a goal of the PGA to get one million kids involved in golf in Canada and the U.S.A. per year for the next ten years,” she adds.
Beebe hopes that she’s off to a good start in helping reach that goal — and she plans on offering the six-week programs throughout the summer, as long as the interest continues. The next sessions begin on June 21.
Fees range from $40 for beginners and the league play group needs to have a junior membership at the course, which costs $175 for the season.
Visit the course’s pro shop for more details, or call 604-869-5881.