|Keller Golf Course After School Program Is Taking Off|
|John Glenn Golf Program|
|Chipping with SNAG|
By Chris Rocheford"If you build it, they will come." This is a saying that Keller Golf Course's afterschool program has embraced since coming into fruition this winter.
Matt Just, who works for the Ramsey County Parks & Recreation Department, along with Keller Golf Course Head Golf Professional Mark Foley and Director of Instruction Jon Reigstad partnered with the local middle school, John Glenn Middle School, to create an after school golf program.
"It began this winter when we visited the school and met with the principal, Jill Miklausich," explained Just. "We told her that we have this golf course a half-mile down the road with funds and resources."
That was all Principal Miklausich needed to hear from the three golf enthusiasts. With a tight budget for youth programs, the money and resources provided by Keller Golf Course were enough to convince her to move forward with the program.
The middle school is responsible for the sign-ups and after school busing to Keller's facilities while the Keller staff takes care of the rest-equipment, volunteers and course availability.
The volunteers include teachers, certified First Tee coaches as well as Keller Golf Course staff who oversee the after school program of around 15 juniors this year with the hopes of doubling that number as early as next year.
"We introduce the lesson plan and then get them swinging a club within the first five minutes," said Just. "It is important to keep them engaged and interacting to peak their interests."
In addition to teaching the game itself, the lesson plan incorporates a core value or life lesson to teach the kids such as integrity, honesty and sportsmanship. "We let them go out on their own to play and keep score. Afterwards, we preach the importance of keeping your score and being truthful about it," Just emphasized.
The program has been a large success in just its first year with kids just finally being introduced to the sport.
"It is extremely rewarding because several of these kids had no knowledge of the sport prior," said Just. "Now, some of these kids are realizing their potential and considering playing high school golf competitively."
Keller Golf Course has a message to other courses looking to get involved in their community,
"If you build it, they will come."
Minnesota Junior Golf Growing Substantially in 2016
The Minnesota Junior Golf Association will host over 180 events featuring over 1,700 golfers in a ten-week span this summer from May through July. In addition to the highly successful Junior Golf program, the Section has seen increases in registration numbers for the PGA Jr. League and Drive, Chip and Putt. The PGA Jr. League, in its third year, will host 86 teams in 20 different leagues across Minnesota and the Dakotas. The Drive, Chip and Putt hosted over 1,100 participants this past season and is estimated to have over 1,350 juniors participate this year.
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