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Local Golf

Silverado junior golf camp is a hit with kids

ZEPHYRHILLS

Shawn Wenkman knows the reason, but, really, he doesn't care.

Wenkman, the course pro at Silverado Golf Course, was all smiles at his weeklong golf summer camp for local youths ages 6-17. He had a laugh and spent the day out on the course with rising golfers.

All the while realizing just why so many kids can't get enough of golf when they could be splashing each other in a community pool.

"I think that's where you see the Tiger Woods effect — in full effect," Wenkman said with a laugh, referring to how the No. 1 golfer in the world inspires kids to pick up a golf club instead of another sport. "I would say even look in the golf bags, and the kids have a Nike something or a Tiger something, and I think that's really helped kids embrace golf — without a doubt."

True, the kids jump on the golf bandwagon thanks to Eldrick Woods and his commercials from razor blades to credit cards and how his every move is documented on the Worldwide Leader. But these kids, as Wenkman will say, are here to learn.

"It's been very well received— no doubt about it," Wenkman said. "It's filled up every year. We have two different age groups and they've always been full (of golfers) and excited."

There are two age groups: the younger division, who focus on game etiquette, really just to introduce them to the game of golf, and the older division, who have been in the younger program and then focus on player development, such as their swing and fine tuning other aspects.

"Both age divisions really take to the game and the camp," Wenkman said.

"I think it's really helped us develop future customers to get more people playing the game. These kids then want to get their mom and dads out here to play, so that's nice."

And then it's some of the parents that get the kids into these camps. Take Zane Mickelson of Wesley Chapel. He's been playing since he was 3 but is pretty specific where he hones his game.

"This is the only camp I go to," Mickelson said. "My mom signed me up for this camp and I really like it and I didn't want to go to any other one. This one is pretty fun. … I've learned a lot from this camp (such as) chipping and driving and having the belt buckle lined up with your target. It's really improved my game."

And the camps, while fun, serve many young golfers. It's giving them an avenue to try something different, and at the same time, according to Wenkman, "It can keep them out of trouble, or doing anything dumb."

Others, such as Chris Brown of Dade City, are happy just playing.

"I just love golf, to play," Brown said. "I've learned to respect the golf course, to be patient and wait for the person to tee off — to respect other golfers as well. I've learned a lot about the process, the game of golf.

"It teaches you stuff, stuff that really helps on the course."

Wenkman loves to teach golf, and, really, there's his reason for running a camp that satisfies him after a hot summer day. He doesn't any other.

"It's kind of fun to start with someone who's learning the basics and help them develop a game throughout the years," Wenkman said. "It's nice to have that connection, and it's neat to see them move up from a junior golfer up and into college.

"It's also nice to see them get excited about something, especially golf."

Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at mcamunas@sptimes.com or (352) 544-1771.

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Silverado junior golf camp is a hit with kids 07/22/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8:11pm]
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