Golf camp teaches kids the love of the game

BY CODY GREDELL | JUNE 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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Golf balls lay scattered around the green as one by one, young golfers tried to putt or tap their ball into the cup.

As each golfer plucked her or his ball out of the ground, an instructor reminded them of their score before they piled into a golf cart and headed for the next hole at Finkbine, the site of the 2011 Iowa Little Hawks Golf Camp hosted by the Iowa women’s golf team.

The Little Hawks Camp is used to promote golf for youngsters around the area, and it targets both boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 12. The golfers were instructed by members of the Iowa coaching staff, including assistant coach John Owens. Campers also received instruction from some of the Iowa golfers. 

“[The camp] gives the kids a chance to come out to Finkbine, get a chance to work on their skills, and have some fun,” Owens said. “We’re trying to promote junior golf in Iowa. It’s been kind of few and far between, from what I’ve seen in the couple years I’ve been here.”

Each camper’s experience with the game varied; some kids said they had been golfing for more than half of their lives, and others said they hadn’t ever set foot on a golf course. Campers were divided into groups based on age and experience, and instruction was geared toward their levels.

“At this age, it’s pretty much the fundamentals,” Owens said. “[We’re] just trying to get the basics down, to give them a good foundation, [and] to give them something else to go on as they get older.”

The campers were also exposed to some of the same training methods employed by the Iowa golf team, including fitness, nutrition, and mental skills. Senior golfer Chelsea Harris said it was all an effort to improve each individual’s game.

“They’ve all improved their swings a lot,” Harris said. “Their putting has had a significant change from the first day.”

Improvement was evident this week not only to the instructors but to the young golfers as well.

“I’ve improved my balance a lot,” said 9-year-old Grant Henderson of Iowa City. “I’ve been working on that all week and making sure I have a straight backswing,”

A tumultuous week of weather that included a warm Monday and Tuesday and an unseasonably chilly Wednesday and Thursday didn’t affect the camp. In fact, Owens said, he liked the cool conditions, and he thought the camp got lucky with the weather.

“It’s almost better than 100 degrees,” he said. “Fatigue definitely sets in when it’s 100 degrees.”

The camp came to a conclusion on Thursday with the Little Hawk Invitational, a six-hole tournament among the campers. One winner from each group got to take home a trophy.

The coaches said, they thought the campers had a good week and hoped that each golfer took something away from the camp.

“I hope they had a good experience, had some fun, and gained an overall enjoyment of the game,” Owens said. “At that age, if you can enjoy [the game], just have a good time, and have a basic understanding and knowledge of the game, you’ll enjoy it.”

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