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Sports

April 13, 2014

Hansen honored for junior league efforts

DUNCAN — Mike Hansen wanted to get more youths interested in golf, so he organized a team for a PGA Junior Golf League.

His efforts earned him the South Central PGA 2013 Junior Golf Leader Award. The award goes to individuals who prove their commitment to junior golf programs and make a positive difference for junior golfers.

Hansen, general manager and head golf pro at Duncan Golf and Tennis Club for three years, wanted to get more youth interested in golf. He and assistant golf pro Mark Budler discussed what could help those efforts.

It started with an after-school program for older youth, in which kids came to the course to learn the sport. It continued with junior golf clinics in the summer.

Then came discussion about entering a team in a PGA junior golf league. The closest league, though, was in Oklahoma City.

That’s when Hansen made a push to find people who could make a junior league team a reality. Several businesses and individuals came forward to get the kids to Oklahoma City to play.

“Family Cars and Trucks donated a bus to transport the kids,” Hansen said. “Chisholm Corner helped out with gasoline. Many parents transported the kids to Oklahoma City just to get us in the league.”

Hansen wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but interest was good for the first year. He had 14 kids who signed up last summer. Hansen expects that number to double this summer.

“It became a bigger deal than (Budler and I) thought it would be,” Hansen said.

The two are now implementing a SNAG Golf program. SNAG stands for Starting New At Golf. Younger kids work with oversized plastic golf clubs and hit tennis balls. Hansen will wear a Velcro suit and get youngsters to hit balls in his direction. The purpose is to get kids to learn how to take good shots.

Hansen also hopes to raise money to get an introductory golf program into the elementary schools.

The golf pro admitted he didn’t understand the impact of such programs at first, until he got the junior golf program started and his son got involved.

“Before, he wanted to play golf because I play golf,” Hansen said. “Now it’s all he wants to talk about. He’ll come out to the course by himself and hit balls on his own time.

“It’s amazing the effect we can have on kids just by teaching them the game.”

The benefit, Hansen said, is that when kids become interested in golf at a young age, they will stick with it as they get older.

“When we see these 10-to-12-year-olds get into high school, the high school team, I’m willing to bet, will be pretty dominant,” he said.

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