Red Hawk Director of Golf Chad Pettingill is in his second summer at the helm of all golf programs at the resort. A youth program was once again a priority for the local golf pro. He said there's a pretty simple reason for that.
"All those kids are our future golfers," Pettingill said. "If we can get them hooked now, they will be hooked for life. The main focus is to get kids out playing this great game. Golf teaches kids so many great values like honesty, integrity etc. We want to foster that in each one of them."
Red Hawk's summer program is offering a trio of different classes. The first is the Hawks Division, which is aimed at kids 6-to-10 years of age, who are beginning to learn the game. The second is the Falcons Division for kids ages 10-to-14, who are beginner to intermediate skill level. Those two classes are held Wednesday and run from 3:40-4:45 p.m. and 5-6:15 p.m. respectively.
The third class is the Eagles Division. It is aimed at kids ages 10 to 17 with an intermediate to advanced skill level. That class is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on Fridays.
None of the classes have more than a 6-to-1 student-teacher ratio.
"Last year we had about 40 kids take advantage of the new Red Hawk Junior program and I think everyone had a good time and made improvements," Pettingill said. "This year, the program is very similar to last year. The Hawks and Falcons are one-hour classes, teaching the fundamentals of full swing, chipping and putting. The last week of the clinic, we take them out on the golf course and let them play a hole or two. They love it.
"The new Eagles class is two hours each week and we focus more on playing. Each week we spend the first 45 minutes to 1 hour on the range and the remaining time focusing on playing the game. So far, this class has been popular with kids that are interested in playing high school golf."
Pettingill, who said almost all of the youths who are participating are Sparks residents, pointed out the Hawks and Falcons classes have a different focus than the Eagles class, but that both are valuable.
"For the younger kids, the focus is all about fun," he said. "We try and make it as fun as possible while teaching them the basics. We just want them to enjoy it, keep them engaged and teach them a little something. The older class is a little more focused on learning the game as most of them want to try out for the high school golf teams either this fall or next fall.
Red Hawk is a huge supporter of junior golf in the Rail City. In addition to trying to grow the game with its own youth summer program, it is a partner in education for Spanish Springs High School. Red Hawk allows the boys and girls golf teams at SSHS to use it as their home practice facility and for home tournaments. Additionally the Cougars golf teams raise money and pay a nominal fee to Red Hawk that allows SSHS student athletes to play on the local course.
"We are a huge supporter of junior golf here at Red Hawk," Pettingill concurred. "We have a lot of great kids that live around this area that play golf already as you can see by how the Spanish Springs boys and girls golf teams have done over the past few years. We want to give as many kids as we can the opportunity to learn and play golf. Like I said, it is a great game that not only is fun but teaches kids life lessons and isn’t that what it is all about?"
Pettingill said parents can still sign their children up for the July and/or August sessions for any of the three divisions of the Junior Golf Program. Just call Red Hawk's pro shop at 626-6000.