An outstanding group of young people between the ages of 8 & 15 who have never played a round of golf, just might have become hooked on golf and taken their first steps toward the PGA tour and maybe even to becoming the first Alaskan to win a Master’s Green Jacket. Annually, the program takes two groups of 24 youngsters one at Birch Ridge Golf Course and another at the Kenai Golf Course and treats them to 5 days of instruction with all the equipment provided as part of the national program known as Hook A Kid on Golf. According to Bob Sizemore of the Birch Ridge Golf Assoc. Hook A Kid On Golf is America’s most comprehensive national youth golf program. “Our goal is to make the game of golf as accessible for youngsters as other youth sports such as baseball, basketball, football and soccer. Hook A Kid On Golf strives to provide communities with a comprehensive youth golf program that eliminates all the obstacles that discourage youngsters from learning and continuing to play golf while instilling in them an understanding of golf’s rules, etiquette and history, we’ve been doing this for over 10 or 11 years,” explained Sizemore.
There is no cost to the participants and they receive all the gear necessary to continue playing the game, “They receive a nice golf hat, a nice golf shirt, they get a golf bag with a set of clubs, balls, tees, divot repair tool and a rule book so they get everything to get set up to play properly,” said Sizemore adding, “We had a perfect week for Kenai weather and were additionally fortunate to have the level of instructors that we had. At Birch Ridge we had three certified PGA tour pros and certified teachers for the kids and here at Kenia we had a least two pros and six more excellent golfers as volunteers and teachers so it was an outstanding group of kids and teachers this year.”
The Birch Ridge Golf Association was awarded the “2012 Don Springer Award” which recognizes the national Hook-a-Kid-on-Golf site of the year. “It’s an incredible honor for those of us who have spent so much time and energy making our Hook-a-Kid program the best possible experience for our area youth. We promise to do everything we can to elevate the program to even greater heights in future years,” said Sizemore. After the class of 2016 received their certificates they also have an incentive to keep playing, “Both Birch Ridge and Kenai offer the graduates of Hook A Kid on Golf clinic the ability to come out one day a week and by themselves or with senior golfers as mentors and those fees are covered by the Golfers Assoc. at both sites. It’s a lot of fun knowing you’re changing kid’s lives for the future and a lot of the credit goes to the parents for taking the time to get the kids registered and taking responsibility of getting the kids here on time and collecting them on time. Our instructors instill in the kids that golf is a social game so it develops communication without e-devices and respect and integrity for one another. The Birch Ridge Golf Assoc. deserve a big pat on the back along with Pat & Myrna Cowan the owners and here at Kenai to the Kenai Golf Assoc. Kirk Hyman and the owners Gordon & Debbie Griffin these are two great facilities in our twin cities,” said Sizemore.