For the love of the game

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NATCHEZ — Twenty-four local youth participated in the first of four Norman Puckett Junior Golf Academy youth camps Monday at Duncan Park.

And if the next three are as successful as the first one was, this event sponsored by the Natchez Recreation Department may last beyond its June 29 end.

At least that’s what Greg Brooking, youth golf programs coordinator at Duncan Park, believes.

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“We’re doing this for golf. If this takes every Monday throughout the summer, we’ll do this,” Brooking said. “We’re trying to get kids interested in golf. You learn the etiquette of golf. You learn the rules of golf.”

Brooking said the turnout for Monday’s youth camp was excellent.

“It went real well. We had some kids that showed some real interest,” Brooking said. “Parker Yelverton donated three sets of clubs. The Concordia Parish Recreation Department was given 10 sets of clubs, but they do not have a golf course over there. So Michael Bowlin gave us those sets of clubs. We’re going to give 10 needy kids a free set of clubs.”

Of the 24 kids that showed up for the youth camp, only four or five had their own set of clubs, Brooking said.

Beau Pré golf pro and course manager Tom Bryant helped the kids by working on their grip, alignment and set-up. Brooking said that the he and Bryant will help the kids work on the swing itself.

“Tom loves golf. He believes in golf,” he said. “Each week Tom will have a different thing to teach them. We want them to have the opportunity to play. We want them to be on the high school golf team. We want them to get a college scholarship. Publicity brings them out.”

The next of these one-day events will take place next Monday at 9 a.m. for kids ages 9-12 and 10:30 a.m. for kids ages 13-17. Camps will also take place June 22 and 29. The first 12 campers in each age group are guaranteed a spot, while others will be put on a waiting list.

“We would like to have 100 kids show up, but we have to limit it to a number of kids. Even though the cost is free, they still have to sign up. We may have the same 24 kids show up next Monday. We may have 24 new kids show up. The kids that like golf will be back next Monday.”