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Golf for youngsters

Juniors learn the great game and more

Golf for youngsters
Juniors learn the great game and more

In 1991, Glenn Pratt experienced a personal crisis that changed the way he lived. Failings weren’t the source of his angst, but rather success. He was an up-and-coming pro golfer with a comfortable lifestyle, yet he felt unfulfilled.
“I decided I needed to instruct, to help, to share my passion for golf,” he says today.

That decision made all the difference for Pratt, and for the 30 or so youngsters who meet every Saturday morning for instruction and practice at his Baha Mar Glenn Pratt Free Junior Golf Clinic in Nassau. The clinic accepts boys and girls aged 7-15, though the children must be accompanied by a parent or other adult, “to make sure the commitment is there,” says Pratt.

Juniors practice on the driving range and the chipping and putting greens and get to play on the nine-hole Cable Beach Golf Course, which is also open for visiting green-fee players.

The kids are given informal golfing instruction and tips, but the emphasis is on having fun and building self-confidence. “This is more about creating good citizens than great golfers,” says Pratt.

Pratt expects to launch an educational scholarship foundation that will provide financial help for some of his charges when they go to college. The way Pratt sees it, this is part of a plan to “create a community of givers” in The Bahamas.

Competition encouraged
Another organization focussed on young golfers is the Bahamas Golf Federation (BGF) whose Junior Programme works with girls and boys aged 10-17.

This programme is all about learning golf and competing: practising, playing and practising some more. Young golfers make good use of the large putting and chipping areas, as well as the attractive driving range–also open to visiting adult golfers–at the programme’s mid-island nerve centre, located off a service road behind the new Thomas A Robinson National Stadium off Thompson Blvd.

“We see lots of interest,” says James Gomez, President of the Bahamas Golf Federation, “and we’re keen on expanding.”

Under this programme the BGF flies groups of 12 kids to Grand Bahama for play on that island’s many courses. “We have somewhat limited access to golf courses here in Nassau,” says Gomez, so sending young players to Freeport “is a great solution for us.”

Beginning in 2012, BGF will expand its youth programme by sending golfers to play in Florida tournaments. “This extra exposure and competition will help our ranking in the Caribbean tournaments,” says Gomez.

Young golfers also take advantage of the “Trinidad Connection,” in which they live free of charge with Trinidadian golf families during tournaments. This encourages cross-cultural understanding at little cost. “It’s a great deal. The only cost is a plane ticket,” says Gomez.

Teaching pros know that learning to play golf is great way for youngsters to gain self-confidence. Pratt believes that, as kids master the game, they master themselves. “Golf is like the game of life,” says Pratt, “conditions change all the time.”



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