ELKINS- Elkins resident Joe Walker is striving to fulfill a promise he made to a friend by breathing new life into the Randolph County Junior Golf Association.
"John Ballantyne ran junior golf in the area, and I made him a promise that I would keep it going," Walker told Elkins Rotary Club members Monday. "In the past, junior golf happened in the summer and was for kids age 6 to 16. We taught them golf for two hours every Friday for five weeks. You don't get much interest in golf if you only spend this (amount of) time. Kids have to be stimulated every day to do something anymore."
Walker said students usually don't play golf if their parents do not belong to a golf club.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Joe Walker speaks with Elkins Rotary Club members Monday about the Randolph County Junior Golf Association.
"I always took my grandchildren to a pro golfer to help them learn," Walker said. "He takes the swing the kid has already and tries to help them improve on that. He doesn't try to change their swing."
Walker said the kids are very excited to be getting this private instruction.
"When the kids come to junior golf, they get a professional golf shirt and (we) teach them the etiquette," Walker said. "They learn the grip, swing, putting and stance."
Walker said before, the junior golf team was teaching golf, but not creating an interest in the game. He said now, after junior golf is over, he will work with students every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
"I had eight kids from Tygarts Valley last Saturday," Walker said. "I worked with them for four hours and taught them their grip, stance and swing, and in four hours, I had them all hitting the ball 50 yards the right way. Those kids went home, and Sunday I got a call from the TV golf coach. He said I would be busy next Saturday because the kids were so excited. About 50 kids plan to come the next time."
Walker said golf is a life skill that people can pick up anytime.
"On the last day of junior golf, students who want (to) will receive a golf club and a whiffle golf ball so they can go home and practice," Walker said. "This is how Bubble Watson learned to play golf."
Walker said students also will be able to use the golf simulator at Davis & Elkins College so that they can stay interested year-around.
"We also will offer golf contests a few times a year where kids can show what they have learned and what they can do," Walker noted. "We would like to get this information to the schools so kids who might like to play golf can learn about what we are doing. There will be no cost for the junior golf team."
Walker said the group has more than 150 golf clubs and 2,000 whiffle golf balls.
"We want to keep the kids excited about golf - give them something to do around the house," Walker said.