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First tee youth golf program

Lessons in golf, life

Program helps young golfers’ game, attitude

Published: 12:54PM July 18th, 2013
Lessons in golf, life

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Instructor Lynnette Truxal helps Corbin Svehla, 8, line up his putt during an eight-week youth golf class at Whispering Firs Golf Course on JBLM McChord Field. During the course, instructors work with kids ages 5 to 17 on their golf skills like putting, chipping and driving, and link it to nine core values that can be used on the golf course as well as in everyday life.

Sergeant Jason Huey of 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, started to teach the game of golf to his son Ronan four years ago while the family was stationed in Korea. The family moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., then to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and his interest in the game has sustained — with the help of the First Tee of South Puget Sound organization.

“It helped improve his game, but it’s improved his attitude toward the game,” Huey said. “They do teach a lot of life lessons.”

Ronan, 9, and about 20 other golfers, meet every Thursday afternoon at Whispering Firs Golf Course on McChord Field for an eight-week junior golf program. The program also has Tuesday afternoon classes at Eagles Pride Golf Course outside JBLM.

Program instructors teach kids ages 5 to 17 golf skills like putting, chipping and driving, and link it to nine core values that can be used on the golf course as well as in everyday life.

“In school, in family, anything like that,” said Breanne Toigo, a First Tee instructor. “One of them is respect — how to respect the other golfers and kids in class.”

Parents have already noticed a positive change in their young golfers, including Yuliana Sheoships’ 5-year-old son Rain, who has shown more respect at school and at home. Although Rain is also enrolled in karate, which allows youths to practice strikes while teaching discipline, he is more excited about going to the golf course.

“It’s really a game that you can carry throughout your life,” Toigo said.

The young golfers seemed to enjoy certain parts of the game more than others, like Ronan Huey, who enjoyed the initial tee shot with a driver.

“Driving is really cool because you can just mash (the ball),” he said.

The First Tee program includes three levels — Par (for beginners), Birdie (goal-setting) and Eagle (advanced instruction) for courses in the spring, summer and fall.

At the end of the Par course the youth golfers are asked to show they are knowledgeable of the sport, can keep their own score and be able to navigate a putting course with little to no direction from the instructors.

“If they can achieve certain skills to move up to the next level, then we’ll allow them to move up to Birdie,” Toigo said.

With the local program helping young golfers, plenty of parents at JBLM enjoy taking their children out on the course.

“We’ve played a couple of nine-hole rounds,” Huey said. “It’s cool because it’s given us (him and son Ronan) some father-son time.”