The Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre recently wrapped up their second girl’s golf camp with rave reviews.
Manager Marty Wheaton has seen a drop in numbers for junior girl’s golf and decided last season he wanted to help try to buck the trend. His first camp was attended by approximately 15 girls, this week his second attempt featured over 30. Wheaton said easing the girls into the sport is a positive approach he’s found successful.
“Introducing them to the game while focusing on a multi-sport facet with the classes,” he explained to Golf Saskatchewan. “We work on hand-eye coordination, some of the rotational muscles that are involved in golf but also introduce them through different sports and games.”
Golf baseball is one unique avenue Wheaton uses. He said it’s essentially tee-ball with golf clubs. He said taking the players minds off the technical focus showed vast improvement in swings.
“It includes running to first base after you hit it, so you see the girls finish on their front side and making sure they are hitting down on the ball. Their technique totally changed from when they were on the range. If you put them in an athletic mode where they just react, it was cool to see the progress,” Wheaton said.
The entrants worked on full swings, grip work, learning knowledge about how the clubs work with certain angles as well. Overall Wheaton said keeping the game fun is important, not just for junior girls but everyone who takes up the sport.
“My big thing is taking baby steps and introducing the game as fun. Hopefully they take it up with their family, we all know it’s a game for a lifetime so starting them young is important,” he said.
Numbers for women golfers both as adult amateurs and youth are struggling. Many junior tours see age groups with just a handful of competitors. Golf Saskatchewan is working on promoting junior girls golf as well and will continue discussions with stakeholders on how to improve the number of participants both competitively and recreationally. The LPGA CP Women’s Open is taking place next week at Regina’s Wascana Country Club. Wheaton said the legacy that tournament could leave is positive for girl’s golf in Saskatchewan.
“I hope it sparks some new blood, we all know we need it. I have a couple juniors going up there to view the event so that’s positive. We don’t usually have the national championships, it’s once in awhile so definitely for the game in Saskatchewan it’s really positive,” he said.
Wheaton is already working on next year’s girls golf camp with hopes of doubling the participation numbers in the third year.