At Walnut Creek Country Club, we have grown our junior/junior mentoring a little every season. It all began with a season ending FUN DAY to our Junior Golf Program. Every couple of years we like to change the format to the Fund Day to keep it fresh. This particular year we decided to have a nine-hole scramble followed by an Awards Banquet. The pairings for this event were based on having a participant from each Hole Group (18, 9, 6 and 3 and junior course). The juniors had a BLAST!
It too a little encouragement to get the 18-hole juniors to play the event, but in the end, they came through and participated. As I witnessed the groups form into teams with cheers and high fives, as well as, helping each other with club selection, direction and putting, the excitement rose. The realization that this format was a success was a few days later on the range. I witnessed an 18-holer go up to a 3-holer and give him a high five and call him ‘partner.’ That 3-holer’s eyes lit up and he had a big grin on his face. Later he told his father all about his encounter on the range. In turn, his father even called me to let me know of his son’s experience and what it meant to the 3-holer. So the slow journey began.
Today we have 18-holers, with driver’s license, walking with the junior course, 3-hole, 6-hole, and 9-hole participants in our Junior Golf Program. They not only keep score but assist with many on course challenges for the younger golfers. They range from what club to use, how to rake a bunker, look for ball marks on the green and assist in fixing them, reminding them to replace divots to where they put their clubs on the green so they will be in the walk off area of the green. These are all aspects of golf that we (the golf professionals) do not have the opportunity to reinforce as we are on the lesson tee going over a rule, etiquette and swing mechanics. This is a tremendous help to us, as well as, the juniors enjoy getting the help from the older players. The 18-hole juniors enjoy that their participants hang on every word they say. The result has been the same as our earlier closing scramble, recognition on the driving range and around the club.
Thanks to our junior golf chair, we have one of our local high school teams (boys and girls) helping with our junior program. Since our club is their home course, she came up with the idea of the teams giving back. The school and teams have been very receptive of this and the team members have volunteered to walk with groups, act as spotters and to help with the rules of golf while on the course.
Junior/junior mentoring has been a huge success at Walnut Creek Country Club. It’s not only been rewarding and fun for juniors, it has been a tremendous help to the staff, the junior program committee and the parents.