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LPGA Professional Kelly Kleckner advises encouraging your children who golf to compete - but warns against forcing the issue.
LPGA Professional Kelly Kleckner advises encouraging your children who golf to compete - but warns against forcing the issue. (Courtesy of uskidsgolf.com)

Junior golf programs help kids release their "inner Tiger"

Kelly KlecknerBy Kelly Kleckner,
Class A LPGA Teaching Professional

Tiger Woods has inspired a whole new generation of golfers! What a thrill it is to watch all of these youngsters taking golf lesson programs all over the region. Parents and young golfers alike all want to be "the next Tiger."

Parents desperately want to see their child excel at this game which often absorbs their own free time. Knowing this, my parents casually introduced my sister and I to the game as soon as we were allowed on the golf course. They began by just having us walk along or pull their carts-there was no forcing the issue of actually playing.

It was because my parents spent so much time at the golf course that my sister and I began to want to try this game that my parents were so good at. I believe looking back that wanting to try the game was a big motivator. There was no one dragging us to the golf course and demanding that we take lessons or play, otherwise I probably would not be where I am today.

A student's success comes from having an instructor that the he/she can relate to, understand, and can ultimately see improvement in their own game. In some cases students enjoy instructors who are rigorous and demanding while others enjoy an instructor who is patient and pushes the student at a slower rate. In any case, parents need to ask their kids about the instructor and stay with them if it's a good thing for the junior golfer - not just the parent!

Playing tournaments is a whole new element for those being introduced to the game. Again, encourage your child to compete but don't force the issue. Many students are afraid of being put in a win-lose situation especially if they are not confident with their game. They don't need to have a 10 or less handicap to play tournaments as most people believe.

As with adult tournaments, most are "flighted" according to whatever handicap you have. Therefore, a junior will be competing with others of his or her own ability. Tournaments and programs are offered in my city, Colorado Springs, as well as throughout the state of Colorado during the summer months. I have been involved with most of the local programs and would like to share them with you.

LPGA Girls Golf Program of Colorado Springs: The only program just for girls in the area. Designed to introduce girls to the game with weekly instruction and playing privileges at Cherokee Ridge Golf Course. Call 576-9176 for more information.

Parks and Recreation: Offers a summer program for juniors at Valley Hi. This includes once a week instruction along with playing privileges. Call 578-6926 for more information.

Pikes Peak Junior League: If your son or daughter already has some golf skills and knows how to play the game on the course-then there is the Pikes Peak Junior League where juniors compete for a spot on a weekly team at their golf course. Then, those qualifying get to play a different course each week around the area-very affordable and promotes great interaction among local junior golfers. Contact your local pro shop for information.

CJGA-Colorado Junior Golf Association provides tournaments for all ages across the state during the summer. Check with your local pro shop.

No matter the level or enthusiasm of your junior golfer, there is some program that should appeal to their needs. Remember to check out the instructor for experience and knowledge in the game along with their teaching style. Also, check to see the time involved in the program, expectations and goals of the instructor along with those of your junior's. By supporting Junior Golf, you are ensuring the future of this great game and many "Tigers" to come!

Golf Tip Of The Month

We often have a lot of wind this time of year. If you can adjust accordingly, the day can be like any other without the wind. Wind causes us to be more anxious and speed up our swing.

Stay calm and if you are hitting into the wind you will need to use at least one club more. Going uphill try using two extra club lengths.

Teeing off-make sure you tee the ball a little lower so it doesn't get caught up in the air as long causing you to lose distance. Generally, hitting into the wind you want to use a less lofted club(3,4,or 5 iron). However, downwind you want to use less club with more loft so the wind can help carry the ball(8 or 9 iron).

LPGA Professional Kelly Kleckner teaches at Cherokee Ridge Golf Course in Colorado Springs, Colo. She played collegiate golf for Colorado State University, and is the founder and director of the LPGA Girls Golf Club for the area. She coaches and teaches private and semi-private lessons all year. For more information call 719-576-9176.

 
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