Young golfers tee off

New pro­gram at CCI aims to get more young golfers to par­tic­i­pate in the sport

The Enterprise-Bulletin (Collingwood) - - SPORTS - GISELE WIN­TON SARVIS gise­lewin­ton­sarvis@ ya­hoo. com twit­ter. com/ gise­le­sarvis

COLLING­WOOD — An avid golfer has seen a dis­turb­ing trend in the sport with a lack of young peo­ple tak­ing it up. But he’s not just putting around on the sub­ject. He’s driv­ing to cor­rect it.

“Golf in gen­eral doesn’t seem to have caught on with the younger gen­er­a­tion and the num­bers are dwin­dling,” said Wayne McMullin a high school teacher at Colling­wood Col­le­giate In­sti­tute ( CCI) and the school’s golf coach.

Since be­com­ing the golf coach at CCI he’s no­ticed that the num­bers of stu­dent golfers are get­ting smaller and smaller, par­tic­u­larly with girls, and that both­ers him.

“Per­son­ally I find it a great recre­ational game. It’s a life­long game for play­ers — once they learn to play com­pe­tently they can con­tinue for the next 60 years,” he said.

So he or­ga­nized spring and fall clin­ics at lo­cal golf cour­ses with lo­cal golf pro­fes­sion­als in­clud­ing Cameron Burechails, golf pro at The Ge­or­gian Bay Golf Academy, and a fall tour­na­ment for the boys and girls teams at CCI.

And he started a be­gin­ner girls golf pro­gram in con­junc­tion with Er­rol Smith at Bat­teaux Creek Golf Club and Burechails that cre­ated a non­com­pet­i­tive learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

This was the first year that Grade 10 stu­dent Maija Col­bourne joined the team.

“It’s re­ally nice be­cause they give you an op­tion to work with a pro­fes­sional,” she said.

“There’s a com­pet­i­tive branch where you can go through all 18 holes and there are other stu­dents like my­self who are newer to golf and choose to take les­son with Cameron and do nine holes and some older ladies at the club come out with us,” she said.

Col­bourne said McMullin is “re­ally good” and mak­ing sure ev­ery­one gets to the course and keep­ing ev­ery­one in­formed of what’s com­ing up.

“I tried to grow a club at­mos­phere for the girls to come out in the com­pany of other girls and learn how to play, make mis­takes, laugh and have fun with­out other in­flu­ences that might tease them or make fun,” said McMullin, who has a daugh­ter on the team.

It’s needed be­cause there were only 13 girls com­pet­ing in both ju­nior and se­nior di­vi­sions of golf this fall through the Sim­coe County Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion com­pared to 120 boys, said McMullin.

“There is a gi­gan­tic dis­par­ity in the num­bers. For what­ever rea­son the girls aren’t pick­ing up the clubs and go­ing out to play,” he said.

McMullin said he doesn’t know ex­actly why and added that the golf in­dus­try also doesn’t know ex­actly why girls aren’t com­ing.

“All I’ve done is try to ex­e­cute a plan that the other golf coaches have been talk­ing about for the last cou­ple of years.”

McMullin said the new pro­gram at­tracted about 20 girls from CCI, Nan­tyr Shores and Ge­or­gian Bay Sec­ondary School. He cred­its its fea­si­bil­ity due to the co­op­er­a­tion of the golf in­dus­try and the women vol­un­teers at Bat­teaux Creek. He had enough women to help out the first week but news of the pro­gram quickly spread and many more of­fered to as­sist for weeks two and three.

“Some­body would walk with them and coach them on club se­lec­tion and golf eti­quette, de­ci­sion mak­ing and rules in a low stress en­vi­ron­ment as com­pared to 18 holes of stroke play,” he said.

So while the 18- hold stroke count com­pe­ti­tions were go­ing on, the be­gin­ners were learn­ing at the same time.

“The hope is that the girls will gain con­fi­dence and in fu­ture years join the stroke tour­na­ments and grow our num­bers of golfers in the county,” he said.

McMullin said he knows the pro­gram is get­ting re­sults be­cause some of the girls are con­tin­u­ing to play, go­ing out on their own on the week­end.

“The par­ents are quite ex­cited that their daugh­ters are ex­press­ing an in­ter­est in pick­ing up the clubs,” he said.

News of the be­gin­ner pro­gram is grow­ing. McMullin said he has heard from a few other schools that are in­ter­ested in send­ing girls next fall. Plus he ex­pects the girls who started this year to sign up again next year.

“I’m hop­ing we will grow it next fall and be able to in­cor­po­rate even more schools,” he said.

The com­pet­i­tive sea­son is al­ready over but the team is tak­ing part in a school cham­pi­onship next Mon­day at Bat­teaux Creek Golf Club fol­lowed by a bar­be­cue.

GISELE WIN­TON SARVIS/ SPE­CIAL TO THE EN­TER­PRISE- BUL­LETIN

The Colling­wood Col­le­giate In­sti­tute’s girls golf team is start­ing to grow in num­bers thanks to a new pro­gram started by teacher, coach and golfer Wayne McMullin, which of­fers girls a non- com­pet­i­tive in­tro­duc­tion to the sport with pro­fes­sional in­struc­tion and fe­male men­tors.

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