Golf camp has course of learning


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At Finkbine Golf Course this week, young kids and teenagers ages 10 to 18 showed off their best golf games.

The Iowa Junior Golf Camp, which began Sunday and concludes today, aims to teach kids more than just a golf swing. Golf tournaments, golf-course etiquette, and being competitive are among things discussed.

The camp is headed by men’s head golf coach Mark Hankins. He said he loves the opportunity the camp provides participants.

“I’ve been coaching golf camps for 22 years now, and there are a lot of things you accomplish … It’s a lot of fun to work with kids in general,” he said. “You allow these kids to come on campus, most of them stay right here in the dorms, in Hillcrest, and they actually get to experience the University of Iowa at a young age.”

A regular camp day consists of breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by learning sessions, lunch, golfing with on-course instruction, dinner, evening learning, and then camp activities. Today, there is a tournament and skills competition, followed by an awards ceremony to conclude the week.

Among the awards to be handed out today include Camper of the Week, Most Improved, and other accolades to be given out for the skills contests.

Hankins said there could be tremendous potential in some of the kids, but seeking that is not among the top priorities.

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“We definitely notice some of the 13- and 14-year-olds who have a lot of potential,” he said. “There’s always one or two kids in here who are really impressive, but they’re young.”

Also working with the kids is Hankins’ assistant coach, Tyler Stith. He looks forward to getting the young kids from Iowa and throughout the Midwest to introduce them to the golf program. He acknowledges it varies when it comes to changes in the kids’ golf games.

“A lot of the kids, they might pick up stuff right away; some of the kids might take two or three days,” Stith said. “Some of the campers we had last year, I had noticed a big change in their games from last year to this year. Everybody learns at different levels or different speeds, everyone learns in different ways, but there is definitely improvement from Day One to the end of camp.”

Stith believes the camp’s purpose is to help the kids participating with achieving goals.

“It might be different for each individual. Some of the kids here want to play collegiate golf, some of the kids here want to play on their high-school team,” he said. “So it’s our job to find out what their goals are, and to help them accomplish those goals.”

Hankins said this year’s crop of campers have some talent but need to be shown the right direction.
“These kids are young … when you change their golf swing, they don’t even remember their old golf swing,” he said. “It’s awesome to watch the transformation with some of these kids.”

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