The Second Annual Pirate Golf Academy is more than just swinging a club at Hail Ridge Golf Course in Boonville.
For the 28 boys and girls, ranging in ages 5-14, the golf academy is about learning the game so that maybe one day they can swing the clubs for the Boonville Pirates Golf Team or just play golf for fun.
Eric VanderLinden, one of the instructors, said the purpose of the academy is to get more kids involved in golf. “Golf is a great sport that has a lot of lessons to go with it and we wanted more kids to experience it,” VanderLinden said. “And because it is such an expensive sport, we wanted something where the kids could golf fairly cheap and still be able to come out and do everything and get to play.”
While playing every Monday from 4-8 p.m. at Hail Ridge, VanderLinden said the academy opened up to kids on June 4th and will run through August 6th.
The cost to attend the academy was also minimal. For $200, VanderLinden said each golfer received a membership to the course and got their own personal clubs and golf attire.
“We also have Pirate Scholarships, where if they couldn’t afford the $200 they could apply for a membership,” VanderLinden said. “The Boonville Kiwanis Club donated money to help offset the cost. That’s also what our fundraiser tournament is for so if they still couldn’t afford the $200, they could apply for that and get the membership to the academy for free.”
The kids also follow a routine each week. VanderLinden said every Monday the kids start off hitting roughly 40 balls on the putting green and then move over to the hitting range to hit balls. Once they are done there, he said one of the high school golfers will go out with the kids and have them play 2-3 holes or as late as they want to stay.
“The main thing starting off is that the kids are making contact,” VanderLinden said. “Of course that happened a lot quicker than we expected so now it’s just them hitting the ball and start gaining distance and swinging harder. They also learn how to hit the ball straight and how far you hit with each club.”
With the help of his dad, Rob VanderLinden, the Boonville Pirates Golf coach, the kids also get one on one lessons.
“We do as much as we can with them,” VanderLinden said. “I wish this was around whenever I was younger. I didn’t start golf until I was in high school and if there was something like this back then I probably would have started a lot earlier.”
VanderLinden said being the golf instructor for the academy has also taught him more patience.
“I am going to be a teacher and its helped me out being around kids more and learning how to help them and teach them,” VanderLinden said. “I like this academy because the kids learn everything from how to hold the clubs, what clubs to use and how to score. They also learn how to chip, putt and hit from the tee so it’s basically everything they need to know about the game of golf.”