The Annual Hettinger Youth Golf Camp, held on May 29-31 at the Hettinger Country Club (HCC), witnessed the attendance of 58 girls and boys from Hettinger, Scranton, Lemmon, Bison, Bowman, and Portland.
All of these kids came ready to hone their golfing fundamentals for the future. The sunny weather in the 60’s and 70’s was a welcome gift for our youth golf fanatics. By Wednesday morning, the cars (filled with enthusiastic children) were coming over the hill into Hettinger Country Club like crazy! With 31 girls and 25 boys from ages 8 to 13, we had our hands full.
This year, with generous gifts from fundraisers at HCC’s Mother’s Day Brunch and the HCC Invitational, we were fortunate to purchase 24, brand new sets of 5 golf clubs, each with a self-standing bag, for any of our youth golfers who don’t have clubs. All of the new clubs, including right and left-handed versions, plus separate sized clubs for 5-8 and 9-12 year olds, and their respective golf bags were numbered and each golfer who needed clubs were given a wristband with their corresponding number. Having clubs for everyone made Golf Camp run a lot smoother this year. Plus, we think it helped build confidence in our youth. And, we received every club back!
To help us teach and administrate golf camp, we had 10 area community golfing volunteers, including Joannie Schmaltz, Ryan & Kali Jacobsen, Ted & Sheri Uecker, Christi Schmitz, Jared Jacobsen, Cassie Dick, Matt Schneider and Beth Lien. Plus, we had special golf instructors Dirk Mack from Scranton on Wednesday, Josh Anderson from Lemmon High School on Thursday, and Wade Blankenbaker and Brooke Peterson from Bowman High School on Friday. The latter is the current recipient of the Senior Female Golfer of the Year in North Dakota! And the former were all standout college golfers and current high school golf coaches.
Every morning the youth golfers met with Camp Director Ted Uecker, for a talk about having fun with golf, but not making fun of our friends; being safe with golf clubs and golf balls, and getting inside the clubhouse if there’s lightning. Then the campers broke into various age groups of 5-10 golfers for station work, beginning with the interlock grip and stance, eventually working into putting, chipping, approaching, mid-iron and driving the golf ball stations.
Every day at around 10:30am, we took a 15 minute break for snacks and drinks from Kennedy’s Fresh Foods. The kids enjoyed the chance to cool off and rebuild their energy.
Next came the chipping and putting contests by grades, which happened each day at camp after the snack break. The overall camp “Chipping Champions” for each day were Casey Kindsfater, Ellie Burns and Jaxon Freeberg. The overall camp “Putting Champions” for each day were Danica Freeberg, Tripp Mack, and Blake Larson. By grades, the Chipping Champs were Dan Skogen, Liam Kennedy, and Rebecca Ranum in 3rd grade; Tatem Fisher, Tyler Fitch, and Ally Buckmeier in 4th grade; Addison Schmitz twice and Ellie Burns in 5th grade; Casey Kindsfater and Liesl Jacobson twice in 6th grade; Sophie Portscheller twice and Jaxon Freeberg in 7th-8th grades. By grades, the Putting Champions were Dan Skogen, Zabrina Miller, Reece Ehlers and Liam Kennedy in 3rd grade; Trigg Odenbach, Haley Timm, and Tyler Fitch in 4th grade; Danica Freeberg, Tripp Mack, and Molly Seamands in 5th grade; ChellOdenbach twice and Casey Kindsfater in 6th grade; Jaxon Freeberg, Laela Jensen, and Blake Larson in 7th-8th grade. Plus, we had even more winners from each day, as they played multiple rounds of competitions. The winners had their choice from over 75 youth prizes!
By the second day of camp, we were still working on the fundamentals with the younger golfers, but the older more experienced golfers headed out to the course in foursomes or fivesomes with a coach to play a few holes. The basics of the game were visited about and the game was on. Our youth certainly enjoyed this experience.
By the 3rd day, all ages were out playing golf with like ages and a coach. They even got to see the visiting special instructors play a few holes. It’s kind of amazing as a young person to see golfers hit the golf ball 250 yards! And make approach shots, chips and putts like the pros!
We hope all of our youth had an enjoyable experience at golf camp. More importantly, we hope they learned and understood the importance of a good grip and stance. And most importantly, we hope they become better citizens – being kind to their friends, being honest with their scores, and cleaning up after themselves.
Their swing and experience of golf will improve with future playing. In fact, Hettinger Country Club is offering “Friday Morning Youth Golf” starting at 9:00am on Fridays, June 7, 14, 28, and July 12th. Our Hettinger Youth Golf Tournament is on Friday, July 19th, starting at 10:00am. Both the Friday Morning Youth Golf and Youth Tournament welcome all ages of girls and boys from anywhere! If they are seven years and under, we’d appreciate if a parent/grandparent/adult are available to assist. We get everyone outfitted with clubs, warmup at the range, and then send the kids out with like age and skill levels to play golf from the far-forward youth tees! They can stay and play until noon or leave sooner – whatever they and their parents think is best.
Also, stay tuned for “Tuesday Youth Lessons with Brooke,” where if there’s enough interest, Brooke Peterson, star golfer at Bowman High, will teach golf lessons to our area youth on Tuesdays for half hour increments for $20. What a terrific opportunity for our youth to receive a few golfing pointers from one of our top student athletes in the area. Besides that, she’s super kind.
Thank you Hettinger and surrounding area for supporting our efforts with Youth Golf. This is truly a sport our youth can enjoy most all of their lifetime. And they will be the future of Hettinger Country Club as well. Onward!