Briar Leaf Golf Club launched its Kids “First Swing” Camp for the 23rd consecutive summer. The program started back in 1996 with only four kids in attendance—now the program has grown to more than 100 kids participating in four different camps throughout the summer. For four days, beginners of any age head to the course to learn the basic fundamentals and etiquette of golf.
Jay Williams, General Manager and Head Golf Professional at Briar Leaf, has been at Briar Leaf for 25 years. He explains the commitment and importance behind teaching young kids the game of golf.
“We carve out a specific amount of time that we dedicate to the juniors and it’s one of my favorite things to do,” Williams said. “I couldn’t be more proud of Briar Leaf for the role I think we’re playing in promoting golf.”
The overall goal of Briar Leaf’s “First Swing” Camp is to simply teach and widen knowledge of the game of golf.
“We never charge high school age and younger junior golfers to play golf, ever,” Williams said. “So we have removed the barrier of cost for getting into golf, because it’s no secret that golf is an expensive sport.”
According to Williams, the best way to grow the game of golf is to start with young kids. But even with the no-charge policy, capturing a child’s attention can be difficult.
“Participation in golf is stagnant at best and maybe even declining,” Williams said. “There are so many things competing for a kid’s time, so we started these programs because we wanted to start competing for their time.”
And to compete for kids’ time, the kids have to have fun.
“At our camps, everything is about fun,” Williams said. “Yeah, we want them to get better, but it’s about having fun so that they want to play golf instead of doing something else.”
What better way to have fun than with a friendly competition. According to Williams, the best part of the camp is always on the third day when he breaks out his inflatable targets for the chipping contest.
“It’s the kids’ favorite day,” Williams said. “They all get to cheer on their teammates and it makes for a great time.”
Briar Leaf also offers a “Player’s Club” camp for older kids who are more experienced golfers and looking to better their game. During the same sessions as the beginners, the experienced group get a more intense lesson of ball control, then head out to play nine holes of golf to put what they’ve learned to the test.
But that’s not all—Williams and his assistant Cody, run the La Porte Junior Golf Tour with kids from the area. The tour features seven events at all of the local golf courses throughout the summer, giving junior golfers an additional opportunity for competition.
“We’ve spent so much time promoting junior golf, I have captured the hashtag #JuniorGolfCapitalofIndiana,” Williams said.
For more information about Briar Leaf Golf Club and their commitment to teaching junior golfers, visit www.briarleaf.com.