Youth love teeing up

Penticton Golf and Country Club youth program continues growing

GYOBIN LEE practices hitting a driver during a Penticton Golf and Country Club junior program session. Lee is among 70 kids in the program that continues to grow in numbers.

GYOBIN LEE practices hitting a driver during a Penticton Golf and Country Club junior program session. Lee is among 70 kids in the program that continues to grow in numbers.

Golf at the grassroots level continues to grow with the Penticton Golf and Country Club‘s junior program.

Jeff Hollman, golf professional and instructor at PGCC, has seen the numbers rise over six years and now they are near 70 kids with about 30 high school students playing in tournaments.

“They are just learning the game,” said Holman.

With just a few weeks remaining, Hollman has helped juniors develop their skills while keeping the fun in it.

Grady Lancaster, 11, and Jodie Wiltse, 16, are in this year’s group.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Lancaster. “I’m learning some new skills that are really helpful.”

Lancaster also said Hollman is good with helping them improve.

“If we are hitting it not too well, he tells us what you’re doing wrong,” said Lancaster, who can drive the ball 170 yards.

“I really like it,” said Wiltse. “I just want to improve so I can play it for fun. Compared to last year, I’m a lot better.”

Wiltse started playing last year to try something new and make friends.

In a sport that is difficult to learn, Hollman said he has seen big improvements.

“Being at the age they are, they can really develop the skill,” said Hollman.

Hollman mentioned that the day after one of their sessions, in which they had played holes one through three, a few came back asking if they could play those holes again.

“They didn’t know it’s an actual nine holes. It’s kind of funny,” he said. “We knew we hooked them right there.”

During one of the weeks, Hollman brought out the club’s Sky Track tool which helps golfers with their swing. Taking swings in practice spots, the machine, which looks like an external hard drive for a computer, calculates information on the golfers swing. On the iPad, it will measure the distance the ball is hit, as well as the speed of the swing and how the ball is hit.

“It gives the golfer a different understanding,” said Hollman. “You can see what the ball is actually doing. Instead of just going for distance, you can focus on accuracy as well.”

The kids have also been exposed to the social side of the sport. After the sessions, they go in the clubhouse to eat and hang out.

“It’s kind of neat to see them go up and … they just socialize,” said Hollman.