Stonebridge Golf Club has always hovered around 10 to 20 junior (17 and under age group) members every year. In 2020, they saw their numbers rise by about 50% to 30 junior members.
“Our junior program has been good this year, says Patrick Kirn of Stonebridge.
We’ve done lots of lessons this year, well over 60 or 70, plus a few clinics. We’ve worked with the Rome Junior Tour, having them out for play days on Mondays now and then. Junior Golf has been fantastic here; I can’t complain.”
With everything going on with COVID this year, we didn’t anticipate any spikes in memberships or even rounds played,” Kirn continues. “As March and April came around and we began to see what was happening, then yes, we knew change could come.
With us being an essential activity, we were open the whole time, so it was something for people to do to get out of the house. Then, when the kids came out, and they started liking it, they stuck around, or started a membership, or found other ways to come out and play with their parents and all that good stuff.”
Kirn says there are many good reasons Golf is good for the junior age group. “Golf is great because you can enjoy it no matter what. It doesn’t matter what you shoot; it doesn’t matter your age, how far you can hit the ball, or your score.
Golf is a game that is always challenging, so no matter what, when you first step on that first tee, it’s different. It’s not like bowling, where you know exactly what you’re getting into every single time. In Golf, every lie is different. Conditions are different. The weather is different.
It’s just that it’s a challenging game, and when you hit that shot, it can be so rewarding. I mean, when you hit that one good shot, you’re coming back the next time. And it doesn’t matter if it was the first or the last shot, you remember it. Golf is a fun game that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.”
Stonebridge has two great instructors, Travis Nance and Ken Bishop, that help transition from a new player to an experienced one.
Kirn says it’s also up to the player. “Becoming a good player is very much depending on what the student puts into their practice. That’s the most important thing, we can tell you what to do, but Golf is a game of repetition and muscle memory, so the more and more you practice, the quicker it will be to transition into it. If you don’t practice, it’s not going to change overnight, although we all wish it would,” he says with a chuckle. “We want to introduce as many kids to the game as we possibly can. Next year, hopefully having more of a normal year, will be our second year with our practice facility and our first year with LaunchBox.”
LaunchBox is a similar experience to Top Golf, where you can hit balls, and it will put your ball onto Pebble Beach or St. Andrews, and you can play virtual courses. There are also virtual contests to help in the development, and it’s overall a great way to practice.
LaunchBox puts your shots on your phone, and for little kids or someone aspiring to get better, it shows your progress, and as you practice and practice, you can get all the info you could want, like having a personal caddy on your phone.
Stonebridge has many affordable ways for juniors to play. There is a standard rate of $20 per month ($240/year). The kids get to hit unlimited range balls seven days a week and unlimited greens fees seven days a week.
“It’s a pretty good deal,” Kirn says. “We also have another program called ‘Kids Play Free.’ Kids 15 and under will play free with a paid adult after one o’clock, seven days a week. So as we have managed to pick up some junior memberships, we probably would have a lot more joining, but a lot of people use the Kids Play Free program because it’s an awesome program in conjunction with our pro membership. Most parents will buy a pro membership, which is $44/month, and they get to play after one o’clock for $17 bucks, and they’ll bring their kid with them. That way, it times out to be the right thing for them.”
Other affordable options include $9 buckets of balls for the driving range and junior rates of $9 to walk 9 holes or $18 to walk 18 holes. Both options are offered 7 days a week.
Segrest also describes the touching solidarity of the city. “At 7 pm everyone leans out of their windows and cheers, banging pots and pans. They are cheering for the healthcare workers. They are cheering for each other. Then an hour later the city stops. There is a silence for all those we lost.”
With so much still uncertain in both New York City and Rome Georgia one thing is for certain- Rebecca Segrest is undoubtedly a hero.
To be continued…..