By Rich Myhre For The Enterprise
With summer officially here — the calendar says so, if not the weather itself — it’s time to start thinking about activities for the coming months.
And for out-of-school youngsters, golf is a great way to fill the vacation void.
For kids in Snohomish County, many area courses are offering summer camps, clinics and other instructional and competitive opportunities that last anywhere from a single day to the entire summer. There is usually a modest fee involved, but in some instances there are scholarships available for families in financial need.
“(Snohomish County) is a great place to be a kid and get started playing golf,” said Rex Fullerton, general manager at Everett’s Legion Memorial and Walter E. Hall golf courses. “The opportunity to get instruction is very easy to come by and very affordable.”
An outstanding program is the First Tee of North Puget Sound (formerly First Tee of Snohomish County, but it has expanded to Skagit and Whatcom counties). First Tee offers an eight-week session of classes from mid-June to mid-August. Each camp is for four days and costs $100, and scholarships are available.
First Tee, which offers a curriculum of life skills in addition to quality golf instruction, has its primary training site at Lynnwood Golf Course, but also has affiliate sites at Snohomish Golf Course, Kenwanda Golf Course in Snohomish and Marysville’s Battle Creek Golf Course.
A golf course in the summer “is one of the safest spots for kids to be,” Fullerton said. “It’s a nice environment for them, and (learning golf) is a good growth experience for them.
“And if they enjoy it and have any sort of talent for it,” he added, “they’re going to be hooked.”
Everett’s two public courses, in fact, offer youth programs as good as anywhere in the Puget Sound area. For starters, the Joe Richer Golf Club — named for former Everett High School teacher and coach Joe Richer — is available for kids 8-18, and for ability levels from beginner to advanced.
“The beauty of that program,” Fullerton said, “is that it only costs $30 to join. And if parents are not in a (good) position financially, there’s a scholarship program to pay for part or all of it, depending on the situation. … They don’t want any kids not to be able to play golf because of financial reasons.”
In addition, Fullerton said, Joe Richer club members can buy a 90-day summer pass for $125 at both golf courses.
The Joe Richer club has two levels — Players in Training for beginners and a Players Club for intermediate to advanced golfers. There are seven trained instructors working with the kids, Fullerton said, “so they’re getting good instruction.”
Everett’s two public courses are also offering junior golf camps run by Premier Golf, which operates both courses. Those camps are for six hours on three consecutive days, and they are available almost every week of the summer at one of the two courses.
The camps “are maybe a little more concentrated instruction than in the Joe Richer program, so they are probably for somebody who wants to move a little more quickly,” Fullerton said.
The cost is $189 for each camp, and $149 for kids who are also in the Joe Richer program. Included is instruction in the fundamentals of golf, rules, etiquette and a daily lunch.
“We’ve seen good growth in the programs since we’ve been here, so we’re pretty excited about that,” Fullerton said. “And we’re counting on it continuing to grow.
“Our goal is that we want kids to have fun, but we also want them to learn something,” he said. “And we have a small enough ratio of instructors to kids so they’ll be getting good instruction.”
Other courses around the county also have youth summer programs, so call the pro shop of a nearby course and ask for information.
Rich Myhre writes for the Herald in Everett.