If you teach them, they will come.
Upon arriving at the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club about two years ago, club professional Mike Hansen had a plan. The club would start to put more time into building a junior program, allowing Duncan’s youth the chance to learn the fundamentals of the game while becoming familiar with the course and the people working there.
A staple of that plan has taken place this week, with DG&T hosting its annual junior golf camp for age groups 6-10 and 11-17. After starting Monday, the camp will conclude Friday afternoon when the campers get the opportunity to play out on the course.
“It’s been awesome. Every kid at this age, they’re like sponges,” Hansen said. “If you’re teaching an adult who has already played 15-20 years, they’ll be more reluctant to make adjustments. With kids, they just say ‘okay’ and try to make that change.”
The camp incorporates all elements of the sport, with kids working with instructors in putting, chipping and driving. This year’s camp includes 44 participants, nearly twice the total of 26 from last year.
“We’ve definitely seen improvement this week and that’s what’s important,” Hansen said. “With the kids aged 6-10, the primary focus is to teach the fundamentals and at the same time teach them how to love the game. We want it to create a spark where they want to keep playing down the road.”
That spark is a big part of the course’s effort to create a family environment at DG&T.
“We’re trying to create a family atmosphere,” Hansen said. “If mom and dad don’t play golf but junior continues to come out here, the hope is they’ll eventually start playing too. Along with the kids, we want moms, dads, aunts, uncles; everyone can come out here and play.”
It’s all part of Hansen’s master plan to encourage a junior program. The course has also given youngsters the chance to compete on the junior golf tour, bringing the players to Oklahoma City to play.
Local golfers will have another chance to learn from Hansen and company after this camp concludes, as another one will take place the last week of July.
“These kind of things are huge for the kids. I didn’t start until I was 16 and was way behind. Five to ten years from now, high school teams will be a whole lot better because kids started at a young age and have the fundamentals,” Hansen said. “It’s also a chance for the kids to feel comfortable coming to the course and not having that intimidation factor.”