Manistee National junior golf clinic helps build skills

Sylvie Thompson, 6, sinks a putt Friday during the junior golf clinic at Manistee National. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Manistee National wrapped up the Cutters’ Camp golf program on Friday. The weeklong junior golf clinic is held annually and serves as an excellent way to introduce children to the game of golf. Students of various ages and abilities took part in the event, with ages ranging from 5 to 16 this year.

The participants developed their golf skills throughout the first four days of the camp and worked on all facets of the game. They received prizes, T-shirts and snacks throughout the week and had a pizza party on Friday.

“Monday is kind of an orientation,” said Manistee National golf pro Denis Meikle. “We take a ride in the cart and do some putting, chipping and go over a few things. We show the kids where we’re going to be meeting and everything. Then Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we meet at the driving range and we have three different stages where the kids practice different fundamentals. We have the driving range, chipping and putting, full swings and long-drive type stuff.

“Then we have a fun area where we do targets and we have a Wiffle ball spot and other foam targets — stuff like that.”

Manistee National was chock-full of young golfers eager to learn this week as participation numbers were right in line with previous years.

“The turnout was good,” Meikle said. “We usually get 40 to 50 and I think we had right around 40 this year. It kind of fluctuates throughout the week and we had a couple more sign up after Monday.”

At times throughout the week, Mother Nature threatened to thwart the campers in their quest to hone their golf game. Fortunately, though the golfers may have felt the occasional raindrop or two while out on the links, the clinic went without a hitch.

“(Friday) was beautiful,” Meikle said. “Monday we had some sprinkles, but we were able to get in what we wanted to. Tuesday was nice. We had some rain, but the kids like being out there and we managed to get the camp in and not really be impacted too greatly by it.”

The last day of camp saw the young golfers put their newly acquired skills to the test.

“On Friday we take the kids out on the course,” Meikle said. “All of them play holes appropriate for their skill level. The parents help supervise and we play for a couple hours. When we get done, we have a little pizza party and the event ends.”

The rain did come on Friday. Fortunately, however, it did so at the same time as the pizza.

“Today worked out perfectly,” Meikle said. “It was sunny and warm this morning. Then it got a little bit cloudy. We had some chipping and putting stuff after the kids got done playing on the course. By the time we got our pizza, we all came in and it was just starting to sprinkle.”

As various Manistee County schools were still in session this week, Meikle said Manistee National may host similar events this summer so those unable to attend Cutters’ Camp have an opportunity to get in on the fun.

“There are several students who asked if we’re going to be doing more, so we’re considering doing a couple other things,” he said. “MAPS is out, but I think Brethren, Bear Lake and Onekama are all still in session parts of this week, and some of them even next.”

Participants of Manistee National’s junior golf clinic gather for a picture Friday as the weeklong camp concludes. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

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