McGough teaches golf to youth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NATCHEZ — In John McGough’s opinion, there’s nothing more fun for a child than learning to play golf.

The former two-time North Carolina All-American golfer has given lessons in Natchez off and on for the past 20 years. This month, he’s taken time to teach golf at Duncan Park’s Norman Puckett Junior Golf Academy.

“I don’t know if life gets any better than ages 6 to 13, when I have a club and a ball in my hands,” McGough said.

“They have a good time, and this is something they can do for the rest of their lives. It’s a healthy habit, and it’s a great way for families to spend quality time together.”

And the children are quick to pick up on his instructions.

“He teaches me about my grip and my position, (as far as) where to stand. I feel like he’s making me a better golfer,” said Sadarrius Thomas, 13.

Andrew Anders, 14, has also gotten good advice from McGough, he said.

“He tells me not to tuck my arm under when I’m driving, and to keep it straight,” Anders said.

For McGough, teaching young people how to play golf gives him a sense of fulfillment, he said.

“I don’t have any children, so I guess it’s Uncle John. You can do anything around Uncle John,” McGough joked.

“I just try to enjoy them and have a good time, and teach them a few things along the way. There’s plenty of time for learning, but right now is the time to cultivate their interest. The most important thing is that they have a good time. That way, they’ll keep coming back.”

McGough competed in the PGA Tour in the early 1980s and the U.S. Open five times. Greg Brooking, Duncan Park’s golf course superintendent, said those experiences allow him to relate to people well, even young people.

“John’s been a professional golfer for 35 years, and has had to deal with a lot of people and interviews, so he knows how to treat people. Also, he’s from Greenville, so he’s a Southern gentleman,” Brooking said.

But the correct technique in a golf swing isn’t something too complicated for younger golfers to pick up, McGough said.

“It’s so simple in its element. It’s just a stance, grip, ball position, posture and swing. We try not to deviate too much from the fundamentals,” McGough said.

Brooking is a big advocate of getting young people interested in golf, and he’s been pleased with the interest the academy’s generated so far.

“We had 15 show up in the first week of June, and this week we’ve had 28. We had 22 in the first group and six in the second group, so the program’s been very successful,” Brooking said.

Golfing is a family tradition for Anders, so it was natural for him to pick up the club, he said.

“My dad, and his dad and his dad are golfers. Our whole family has been golfing for a while,” Anders said.

As for Thomas, he can’t exactly pinpoint why he likes golf so much.

“I’ve been coming out (to Duncan Park) for a good year, really because I just like it. I watch it on TV sometimes, and my favorite golfer is Tiger Woods,” Thomas said.