A beginner golf program launched by New York Professional Kate Tempesta has flown north of the border to Estevan’s S&M Woodlawn Golf Club.
No one actually travelled to the south Saskatchewan city this past weekend, but Woodlawn Pro Amanda Minchin conducted her own “Birdie Basics” Camp over the weekend.
“It’s geared towards just play, fun, and storytelling, there’s a mascot name Birdie,” Minchin explained. “It’s just geared towards that. We still do golf stuff but it’s almost like we’re teaching them about golf skills without really talking to them about golf if that makes sense.”
The program focuses on kids aged 3 to 6. The kids are given a “playbook” that involves various activities including colouring. Everything is geared towards birdies and their safety. Minchin said keeping younger kids needs to be fin and engageable.
“It’s a young, young age, at first there is a few kids that didn’t want mom and dad to leave, others were like, ‘I’m fine’ and took off their jacket and shoes and ran were like ‘hi Amanda.’ By the end of the first 35 minutes the few in tears didn’t even notice if mom and dad were there.”
On the ‘Birdie Basic’ website they state their goal is to “empower children as young as three, via golf-and, by extension, grow the game.” Minchin said growth of the game at the local level is important but not her end goal.
“If a kid leaves with a great memory, maybe they never come back to the golf course, of course we want them to. If they don’t at least we want them to say that was fun and just a super positive environment,” she said.
Long-time Estevan resident and former Woodlawn junior Anthony Melle has two boys, age 3 and 2. His kids both participated and had a great time.
“It was awesome,” Melle said. “I think kids at this age need structure and just to get out of the house. It killed some time of the day on the weekend to just run around. Once they were home they were pooped and ready for naptime. It was great.”
Melle has had his boys at the clubhouse and course regularly so they aren’t strangers to the sport, but he was pleasantly surprised they way they took up Minchin’s instruction.
“I was really impressed with my oldest, I still think he’s in troubles twos a little bit with listening, but we stressed you have to listen to your teacher. He sat there and listened. It was awesome, it was greatly run,” Melle added.
Still too young for other organized sports and COVID-19 creating some other sport restrictions Melle also said it was important for his kids to have a chance to interact with other kids while in a safe environment.
“I made great relationships at the golf course, I take my kids there every Saturday and we go for breakfast. I will be on the putting green and for the most part they are playing with their tractors or fetching my ball out of the hole. I just can’t wait for my kids to get a little bit older and get involved in the game,” he said.
Minchin has another weekend of the “Birdie Basics” planned for the upcoming weekend.