Mike takes on junior golfers at Wendell Coffee camp

Mon, 06/11/2007 - 3:33pm
By: Michael Boylan
The sport of golf may be, as someone once succinctly summarized, a “good walk spoiled,” but it has put it hooks in to me. I love the challenge of trying to improve on my last game and my last shot. While I often play against my father or my friends, golf is more about me trying to best myself.

That being said, when Sean Coffee, the head instructor for the Wendell Coffee Junior Golf Camp, agreed to help set up a match between me and a number of his campers last week, I couldn’t resist and I definitely wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to get beat by a bunch of kids.

Thursday was a beautiful day and the temperature didn’t get too hot until after I had already been playing (and walking and walking some more) for well over an hour. I brought my new associate Kevin with me to handle the cameras (both digital and video) and we walked right into the lion’s den - lunchtime at the camp. The 15 junior golfers sat around several tables, watching a video on the rules of golf and devouring sandwiches and chocolatey snacks. They looked hungry and they eyed us suspiciously. After the videos, it was time to hit the course. Sean set it up so that I would play one hole and then walk back to play the hole before it. That way, I would get a chance to take on as many golfers as possible.

This sounded good to me, until I started actually doing the walking from the end of one hole to the beginning of the hole that preceded it. I’m not saying it was unfair, but please factor that in to my results for the day.

The first hole was hole number two. A pond lies directly to your left and if you’re going to hit the green on your opening drive, you have to go over the pond. I did not go over the pond, I went over a tree and had to chip my way on. My second chip was horrible - I think I froze with the camera on me and soon I putted my way to a six. One of the kids I was golfing with scored a five.

That’s one for Wendell’s Kids and zero for Mike. Hole number one pitted me against two girls, and as they hit the pond several times, I knew I had this one won, as long as I could keep my ball dry. No problem. Despite hitting the water, their short games were far better than mine, but it was too little and too late at that point. Thank you ladies.

All tied up - Kids - 1 and Mike - 1.

Hole number nine was a big deal for me. A few days earlier I got a par on the hole and the score was good enough for me to get my first win ever over my Dad. No such luck on Thursday. I hit the water and scored another six. My opponent in this round was a girl playing by herself because she had to leave early that day. She shot a six as well - so it was a push. And now it was brutally hot. I walked back to eight, but a group of young players were holding things up, so I ended up playing the seventh hole with a pair that called themselves the “two Jakes.” Actually, that’s what I dubbed them, but I think it sounds cool and they should keep the name.

Seven was my best hole. I had a great drive, a decent chip and unfortunately two putts giving me a four. One Jake also had a four on the hole (thanks a lot, kid), but the other scored a five. Sean also stopped by on this hole to give us a quick lesson on reading the green, which came in handy but would have been more handy for me on the second hole.

The next hole, the eighth, would be my last of the day. The group I played with was large and included Sean’s two kids, Conor and Cody, as well as some top notch younger guys. I didn’t hit the water - yay - but I did hit a bunker and it took two strokes to get out and then I had a really long putt. I got another six and I know that at least some of the kids I faced did better than that.

Of course more than a few of them shot from the junior tees. I’m not complaining, but my score would probably be at least a little different if I shot from up there, but I digress. Give the eighth to the campers and I lost 2-1 with two pushes.

This is what I love about golf though. As disappointed as I was for not completely destroying the children, I had a lot of really good shots to focus on. I only lost one ball and I learned a bit about reading greens.

The Wendell Coffee Golf Center offers the junior golf camps every summer and during every school vacation. Kids learn fundamentals all morning and then follow it up every day with nine holes on the par three course. Every player I talked to had improved since camp started and, most importantly, they were all having fun.

For more information on the camp, phone 770-969-4469.

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