Junior golf lessons set to start June 3

Summer program helps kids develop their golf skills

Golf instructor Valerie Beebe

Golf is one of the world’s great life-long sports. Many Hope residents enjoy the game right into their 70s and 80s — and the Hope Golf Club will soon be introducing the sport to a new generation of golfers.

Instructor Valerie Beebe of Chilliwack is set to begin her junior golfing lessons on Monday, June 3, with the age five to eight group working from 4:30-5:15 p.m., using the modified equipment of the SNAG (Starting New At Golf) program.

Players aged nine and up— and younger players who have gone through the SNAG training — will practice from 5:30-7 p.m., using regular golf equipment.

Beebe is a qualified golf instructor, working out of the Kinkora club in Chilliwack, where she hosts their Wednesday evening junior league. She is a member of the Canadian and U.S. golf teachers’ associations and she takes part in PGA training sessions, such as the one she recently attended in Florida, taking seminars with master instructors Michael Breed and Hank Haney.

“This is my eleventh year, working with the SNAG program,” said Beebe on Wednesday. “We use weighted tennis balls and clubs of different lengths and use a playful approach to learning the skills.”

Velcro targets and handles with noise-makers enhance the fun aspect.

Along with golfing skills, Beebe also addresses life skills and etiquette of the game, starting with the SNAG students and continuing with the more advanced students, who will be getting some time out on the course.

“When I teach SNAG, I also incorporate the First Tee program’s nine base life skills into my program,” said Beebe. ”As well, I ask the children where they can use that life skill in golf — and in a situation at school or home.

“My program also includes a coaching theme for the day, be it pre-swing routine (thinking box), target, aim, finish and balance, etcetera.  The coaching theme will correspond to the golf skill being taught that day.

“I also include a golf term with every class, such as birdie, bogie, dog leg, trap, bunker, addressing the ball, lie of the club, etcetera.

“The last thing I speak about before starting the ‘fun’ part of the class is a character development trait of the day — and one unwritten (etiquette) rule of golf.  Examples of these would be: focus… where and when do you have to focus? Respect… what is it and where do you use it? Confidence… where is it found and how do you get it?

“Etiquette rules would be something like: Do you stand behind someone when they’re launching the ball? Do you speak when someone is rolling the ball? Who replaces the flag when everyone has rolled out? These are just a few examples of what’s included in my lessons,” explained Beebe.

The SNAG group has an upper limit of 10 students and a minimum of five. Registration is $50 for six sessions and is payable at the course’s pro shop. All equipment is provided.

“It’s a very inexpensive way of having six weeks of lessons,” said Beebe.

The small class size makes it easier to individualize instruction — and Beebe intends to  bring along even more assistance.

“I’ll be bringing up a student from Chilliwack, Emmalei Wilson or Gabe Dekaney, to help with the Hope students.”

The advanced group has a class limit of four to eight students, including graduates of the SNAG program. It’s $60 for nine hours of instruction.

“We’ll be using the driving range and the putting green — and we’ll be chipping and pitching onto the putting green,” explained Beebe. “Every other week, we’ll go out on the course and play three holes. Maybe holes 1, 2 and 3 the first time, then 6, 7, 8 and 7, 8, 9. We’ll change things up to keep it interesting.

“We’ll start with the younger golfers teeing off closer to the pin — but my goal is to have them teeing off from the tee boxes, later in the season,” said Beebe. “We would play best-ball and have all the groups hit their next ball from the best location, then once they’re on the green, they putt from their own location.”

Beebe said that she can provide a limited amount of equipment for the older players who don’t have their own clubs yet. She also has access to junior starter sets, which she figured she could get at, or near, cost.

Once the first sessions are done, Beebe hopes to have a second set in the summer.

Hope Golf Club operator Kerry Krahn said the club is offering junior club memberships for the same rate as last year… actually a bit cheaper, since the full HST is no longer applied. The fee is $179, plus GST, which gives a junior player access to the course throughout the season.

“There are no blackouts, other than when tournaments are on,” said Krahn. “They do have to sign up for tee times, the same as for adult golfers.”

In other club news, the monthly “9-and-Dine” is on May 31. It is an Italian night open to anyone, even if people just want to just come for dinner.

“We dropped the price this year of seasonal green fees to $699, to get more golfers out and it seems to be working. There are lots of new faces,” added Claudette Krahn.

“Next year is our 50th anniversary and we are planning a huge homecoming weekend. There will be bands and a barbecue — and everyone from the community will be invited to stop by. Planning has already begun.”

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