Tournament Journal

introduce your child to the basics of golf, ranging from how to grip a club to driving, chipping and putting. Emphasis is also placed on the rules of the game and golf etiquette. As an added caveat, clinics dole out golf apparel, balls and sometimes even golf clubs to its participants. Your child may even be fortunate enough to receive instruction from a seasoned professional golfer.

The Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge junior clinic has featured Mark Nance, Kenny Simms, Todd Daniel and Maria Mills in the past. This year the clinic will once again be a mini tournament for kids, held on the par-three course. “We’re trying to make folks understand that golf is for everyone,” says Craig Bowen, who oversees the BE Clinic and who directs the Leadership Promotions Department at Titleist. “Exposure is the key. If kids are exposed to golf they may lose some of those preconceived notions that it’s boring.”

Plus the young generation now has an African-American role model who is taking the professional golf world by storm. Last April, Tiger Woods became the first black golfer to win the famed Masters Tournament and in June, he became the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer. “It used to be that kids wanted to be like Mike, now they want to be like Tiger,” says Marcus Williams, project director for the NMJGF. “And to be like Tiger, you have to play golf.”

The onus is on parents to gauge how their child feels about the sport. After you’ve had yours introduced to golf, go to a field and just watch your child hit some balls. Does it bring a smile to his or her face? Does the sport seem to be challenging and enjoyable? If so, the real fun has just begun.

One of the wisest moves you can make at this stage is to hook your child up with a golf instructor. Again, contact the local club pro to get a list of those in your area. With the proper instruction, your child is going to feel more confident and less frustrated with this mentally and physically challenging activity. An instructor can also give you advice on what kind of equipment to get. The consensus is that a 7-iron, pitching wedge and a putter are all that’s needed for the beginner. Hold off on the golf shoes and designer clothes. Tennis shoes and play clothes are fine for starters.

Be forewarned, though, that the biggest problem for junior golfers is a shortage of facilities. Clinic organizers are quick to say that they may actually be doing junior golfers a disservice by getting them all excited about the game, only to have the juniors discover later that there aren’t a lot of places to play. Very few golf courses are going to want a junior four-some on the course during the busy weekend schedule. And unless you play golf yourself, it could be tricky finding another adult who’s willing to play an 18-hole round with your child on a

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