It’s a cold and hard truth knowing that golf participation has been stagnant for years now.
But when you arrive at Oaks North Golf Course and see a bustling practice facility filled with pint-sized players doing their best Rory McIlroy imitation, you’d swear this was a non-issue.
Those concerned about the future of golf need to look no further than the 27-hole executive course in Rancho Bernardo for hope. Every summer, Oaks North overflows with kids and this year is no different as weekly golf camps for players of all experience levels are filling up fast.
“I look forward to this every summer,” said Lloyd Porter, Oaks North’s head pro for the last 17 years. “I always enjoy teaching the kids. And because of our practice facility, Oaks North is as perfect place for teaching juniors.”
The camp for beginners is a five-day class (3:30-5 p.m. Monday-Friday) that covers all aspects of the game – including rules and etiquette discussions – and culminates with a nine-hole tournament on the last day.
Advanced camps include five three-hour golf lessons that include bunker play, chip shots, half-swing wedge shots and a nine-hole scramble with an instructor. Players will play nine holes every day and will also have their swing analyzed via video.
Both camps are being held every week through mid August.
One aspect of the beginner camp that Porter relishes is SNAG golf, which features colorful giant-headed clubs and oversized golf balls as a non-traditional way of helping kids learn the fundamentals of the game. SNAG, which stands for Starting New at Golf, was invented by former PGA Tour pros Terry Anton and Wally Armstrong and is being backed by Jack Nicklaus.
“It’s changing the whole landscape of how we teach kids,” Porter said.
One fun feature is an instructor puts on a suit made of Velcro and kids are encouraged to use the instructor as target practice. It makes Porter laugh every time.
“We line up 8 kids and we just whack at him,” Porter said. “The kids love it and they are learning a lot more about the game than they realize.”
At Oaks North, the fun doesn’t end when summer does. Starting in late August, the Parent-Junior League tees off. Every Sunday afternoon for 10 weeks parents and their kids can team up to play 9 holes at discounted rates.
In September, the JC Golf Junior Tour begins. This tour is designed for more advanced players (ages 10-17) who are looking to prepare for high school or college competition.
For more information on Oaks North junior programs, contact Porter at (858) 487-3021 or email@example.com.
Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.