What age is right age to tee off?

GOLF

May 30, 1993|By GEORGE TAYLOR

A question often asked but loosely answered is when a youngster should take up golf.

The USGA dictates that junior golf terminates at age 17. But there are varied opinions when boys and girls formally should start the game.

Many sports have regulations for starting points. For example, Little League baseball has clinics starting at age 6 and game competition at 7. Soccer programs get under way at 5. Recreation Council-sponsored lacrosse has youngsters starting with "soft-stick classes" at 6 and game action at 7.

Many golf instructors say, however, it's up to each individual to decide about his own child.

Professionals Leighton Thomas and Darren Schildt have wide experience with beginning golfers. They operate clinics for juniors weekly through the summer at Wakefield Valley.

"It's really never too early for youngsters to start," said Thomas. "Even if they are not ready for formal lessons, we encourage them to turn out to sock balls freestyle on the range or find interest in the game on the putting green."

Schildt said: "What should determine when a beginner is ready for lessons depends on the pupil's attention span. I've had 5-year-olds who can fully absorb instructions. Usually, though, I feel that 6 or 7 are the best ages to start."

Bill Horney, head professional at Wakefield, agrees with his younger teaching professionals that 6 or 7 are the best years to start.

"But, I have a 3-year-old son," said Horney, "and just to show how far a father's ego can be pushed, I'm going to enter him in this year's Jimmy Flattery Tournament at Hunt Valley."

Jeff Zachman, head professional at Piney Branch, said: "My feeling about when youngsters should start with golf lessons is ages 7 or 8. In the first place, they are not strong enough earlier to make a swing in full balance. Also, there is a need for a good attention span. Try telling a little guy about shifting his weight or flexing his knees and he'll tell you about how many tadpoles he caught yesterday."

Gil Taylor, director of golf at Bear Creek, said, "Probably the best times are 8 or 9. Certainly no earlier than 7."

Bear Creek

A field of 120 competed in the Rotary Club tournament at Bear Creek. The winning foursome was Dick Seamon, Bill Keiger, R. P. Urquhart and Tom Matte, scoring an 11-under-par 60.

Winners in Bear Creek's two-man team competition were Dale Peddicord and Mike Peters with 63; Bobby Mitchell and Todd Vollmer, 65, and Bill Welch and Jesse Mullins, 67. A hole-in-one was scored by William Greenwalt on the 179-yard 11th hole at Bear Creek.

Piney Branch

The combinations of Steve Cimbalista and Phil Phillips deadlocked at 141 with Mel Dorman and Dave Heiberg in Piney Branch's two-player team event. Cimbalista and Phillips won in a playoff. Mary Beth Schmid and Connie Henderson won the women's division with 174.

In mixed-foursome play at Piney Branch, the leaders were: 63 -- Joe Evans, Mark Sunderland, Lorraine Myer and Jane Hale; 64 -- Bea McCauley, Ed Compher, Peck Rhoten and Virginia Martin and 67 -- Dick Cormier, Joanne Holland and Connie Henderson.

Short shots

Carroll County's Michael Wah missed qualifying for the Maryland State Amateur this year. But because he qualified for the National Amateur last year, he has been given an exception for the State Open at Crofton on July 12-14.

* Quail Valley, a new course near Littlestown, Pa., opened yesterday.

* The United Way charity tournament, sponsored by the Association of Roofing Contractors, will hold a benefit tournament Thursday at Turf Valley. Entry fee is $100.

* The Westminster Kiwanis will conduct its annual team invitational June 18 at Wakefield. The four-man competition has a $70 entry fee.

* Jim Upinek scored a hole-in-one on Oakmont Green's 174-yards sixth hole using a five iron.

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