July and August sessions, which cost $120, are still available with classes set up for children ages 6-17 on either Wednesdays or Fridays. Different ages and skill levels are split up into three groups, consisting of the ‘Hawks’ (ages 6-13 and beginners), ‘Falcons’ (ages 9-14, beginner to intermediate) and ‘Eagles’ (ages 10-17, intermediate to advanced). With classes having a 6-to-1 student to teacher ratio, participants are sure to gain a lot in their time on the links.
“The first thing we’re trying to do is make them have fun,” said Red Hawk PGA Director of Golf Chad Pettingill, who is running the sessions. “That’s what it’s all about. We want to teach them this game and make sure they’re having fun because if they can start having fun and kind of learn the basics of just the swing, they’ll keep coming back.
“Aside from having fun, the main emphasis is just making sure they just get the basics down. The thing I work on the most with them is the turn. I’m just trying to get them to turn and swing through the ball because if they can get that concept when they’re young, then they’ll have it for the rest of their lives. It becomes so much easier at that point.”
While the kids are learning from the lessons, they are definitely enjoying their time on the course. Whitney Laskin, whose son Michael, 10, and daughter Emma, 6, recently finished the first session of the summer lessons, said her kids will be eager to get back on the course.
“This has been a really good, level playing field for them. Other than putt-putt, this is their first time with golf. Their grandpa is an avid golfer so they relate to him through this because now they do something he does. They just kind of got to an age where it was time to try something new and start to see what other things they like. We thought this would be good because it’s a short duration, just four lessons, so if they really hate it then it’s not a big deal. If they love it, then they can keep going. So far they really like it. They love it.”
Part of the reason Laskin said Michael and Emma have had such a good experience with golf is because of the instruction of Pettingill.
“The golf pro is great. He is just so patient and kind,” Laskin said. “He’s not smothering. He’s not telling them everything they do is great, but is realistic. I like that.”
For Pettingill, who is in his first year running the program at Red Hawk, it is about sharing the game of golf with kids at a young age and seeing them grow.
“My favorite part of it is watching the success,” Pettingill said. “It’s fun watching them improve. From the first week we started some of these kids couldn’t even pick up their golf clubs and swing it all the way around their body. Today, they’re hitting it out a good 50-60 yards. That makes it worth it. It’s just fun to be with the kids.
“We’re just trying to get as many kids out here to experience the game as much as possible and hopefully they take it up for life. Most of the kids that get into it have fun and want to come back. They tell their parents how much fun they had and their parents see that they improve and know that it’s a game for life. It’s not like baseball or soccer, where they’re going to play while they’re a kid but then it’s over, this is something they’ll get to play their whole entire lives.”
For those interested, information is available at the Red Hawk golf shop or by calling 626-6000.