Program creates love for golf

A passion for golf is growing in Grades 6 to 8 students from Skaha Lake Middle School.

Shawnee Snell

Shawnee Snell

A passion for golf is growing in Grades 6 to 8 students from Skaha Lake Middle School.

The seed was planted by a program the school offers, which had 40 kids participate. That was it’s largest number.

“The goal of our golf program is to develop a lifelong love for the sport by teaching the game, etiquette, basic fundamentals and ultimately making it fun,” said instructor Tony Orioli.

The program began in September then hibernated in the winter and hit the greens again in March until June. Support from local courses made playing affordable. The students played a variety of courses including Pine Hills GC, Skaha Meadows and Twin Lakes. Orioli, who was assisted by Peter Dunstan-Adams and parent volunteers, said there were many improvements.

“Everything from understanding how to hold a club, proper stance and body position,” said Orioli, were among the things the students learned, adding that etiquette was also taught with the importance on fun.

Receiving awards were Billy Beecroft for best low net score in all tournaments, Travis Stephens as the top male golfer, Hannah Boake and John Pisano as most improved, and Shawnee Snell as the top female golfer. Snell said it was quite the shock to earn that award.

“I felt proud of myself to get that award,” she said.

Snell enjoyed the program as she likes to play golf, especially with her father Terry. What she liked is that she was able to play on different courses and took advantage of the driving range.

“I got better driving the ball,” she said. “Before I could only drive the ball about 50 yards and now I can hit it about 110 yards.”

Beecroft, who had only played a couple of times before, fell in love with the sport because of the program. Practice helped Beecroft become a better player.

“The best part about it is getting out lots with everyone,” said Beecroft.

“The students enjoy being outdoors, challenging themselves to learn and improve,” said Orioli. “They also really enjoy golfing with friends and students from SLMS.”

Play was setup in a format allowing the students to rotate so they could learn from each other.

“It’s great to hear all the stories at the clubhouse when students complete their rounds,” said Orioli. “We’ve seen rattlesnakes at Pine Hills, a bear at St. Andrews, turtles at Skaha Meadows etc.  In the end, I think most students enjoy getting outdoors … and breathing some clean, fresh Okanagan air.”