On a given Friday afternoon for the next few weeks you’ll likely find youngsters from around Nakusp swinging their clubs at Linda Henke’s driving range learning the basics from her and Golf Pro Burt Drysdale.
This year, the Junior Program has 59 kids enrolled, and for the ease of both kids and instructors, there are three classes running each week. When I arrived during the second Friday class, the students were practising how to clean their clubs as well as how to swing them.
For the younger kids taught by Linda Henke, the goal was to get the iron to hit the ball. To Henke, the aim was to get the kids to learn the skills so they could play if they ever wanted to.
“I’m not out to make you pros,” said Henke, “but to give you the skills to play.” Her approach is to keep it fun so the kids want to play and keep coming out. And they do keep coming back. This year, there are several kids who’ve come back to learn more and improve their skills.
One dad, Ken Barisoff, who was watching his daughter in the younger group, said the Nakusp Golf Course is the perfect place to learn and play, because the grounds are so well taken care of and the prices are very affordable.
“Compared to anywhere else, it’s unbelievable,” he said. Barisoff has played golf only six or seven times in his life, finding it hard to get the time, but he sounded determined to get out and enjoy at least a few games this summer.
A little further down the range, Burt Drysdale was teaching the kids how to get the ball where you wanted to go.
“Aim with your eyes, align with your body,” he instructed.
Drysdale became a PGA member in 1972 and has been lucky enough to make his living teaching golf. He and his wife have been in the process of retiring to Nakusp ever since they first came here six years ago.
“It was like what we were doing today, planting trees,” he said, and once the seed was planted they were on their way to becoming full-time Nakuspians.
Drysdale loves teaching so much that even though he is retired, he still wanted to help out with the Junior Program. He said he has distilled the essentials of all good golfers and passes that information along to his students. A big part of lessons for the Juniors is etiquette, he said, which he sees as foundational to the game.
After five or six weeks of practise, the kids will head out to the golf course proper and try out their new skills on the green. Until then, they’ve got a lot of fun ahead hitting balls at the range.