Ben Balentine and Jay King from the North Carolina club have been working with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade kids as part of an initiative started in more than 40 cities by the PGA Foundation and USGA. Highland Lake GC in Flat Rock, N.C. has also participated by making its course available for practice.
A program led by Ben Balentine and Jay King, golf professionals at Hendersonville (N.C.) Country Club, to introduce third, fourth- and fifth-grade kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Hendersonville to the game of golf was featured on BlueRidgeNow.com. The program is part of an initiative started by the PGA Foundation and the United States Golf Association in more than 40 cities, using PGA professionals as instructors. The goal is to bring the program to more than 150 Boys & Girls clubs in five years.
The BlueRidgeNow.com feature told of how both Balentine and King have taken time out of their schedules every Thursday over a six-week period to teach the basic skills in golf, the rules of golf and the fun in playing golf to 28 boys and girls. At the end of their session the kids then go to a course to play golf. Highland Lake Golf Club in Flat Rock, N.C. generously offered its course for the youngsters to try their newly acquired skills.
“The exposure has been wonderful for these kids,” Mikkel Patterson, Boys & Girls Club of Hendersonville Athletic Director, told BlueRidgeNow.com. “The best thing about this program is that it brings something new to the table.” The kids look forward to their weekly sessions and really look up to Balentine and King, he added.
As a result of the program, Patterson said, he has noticed that the kids are learning patience and a love for the game, as well as more about the etiquette and history of golf. When the kids were initially asked if they wanted to sign up for the program, he told BlueRidgeNow.com, “lots of hands went up.” Some said that they had “seen it [golf] on TV and it looked real cool.”
“My main goal is for the kids to have physical activity and sports year-round and to expose the kids to traditional and non-traditional sports,” Patterson told BlueRidgenow.com. Golf fits well with that goal particularly well, he added, because it can be played by all ages and genders and does not call for being tall, large, fast or strong to have an advantage.
In addition to golf-related discussions, Balentine and King also emphasize life skills, such as healthy nutrition and protection from the sun, in their sessions.“I’m proud to work with the program and see it grow on a local level,” King said. “Golf is a game the kids can use for a lifetime.”
A second session at the Hendersonville club will start in September and has filled up quickly, BlueRidgenow.com reported.