GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of kids from Boys and Girls Clubs across South Mississippi ventured to Shell Landing Monday for the opportunity to learn from the pros on the golf course.
It was all part of the junior golf clinic ahead of this week’s professional Rapican Systems Classic, a PGA Champions golf tournament held each year on the Coast.
Before the pros hit the fairway at Fallen Oaks though, they got busy at Shell Landing teaching basics and inspiring a love of golf in young minds.
Teaching the children were Gary Nicklaus, son of the legendary Jack Nicklaus, along with P.H. Horgan and local professionals. The golfers worked with the kids to try and spark an interest in the game of golf.
One of the youth who participated said he was surprised how much he enjoyed playing and learning about the game of golf.
“It was fun,” said Nicholas Hawthorne. “It was a good experience for us to come out here and just have fun and play golf 'cause I really didn’t think I was going to like it and then when I came I actually liked it.”
Several other kids were also eager to hit like the pros.
“I wanted my ball to fly like theirs,” said Aminah Chambers.
For many of the kids, it was their first time on a golf course.
“It is great to see them come out here,” said Nicklaus. “Golf is something that, if these kids start now and they learn the game, they can play for the rest of their lives.”
The list of benefits that golf offers is extensive and the opportunity to capture kids’ interests from a young age is something that Horgan enjoys.
“I get a thrill out of seeing kids enjoy the game,” said Horgan. “I think this is eye-opening for these kids, maybe some of them have never hit a golf shot before.”
The Bacot McCarty Foundation was critical in helping put on the event.
“It is a great thing to see,” said Bacot McCarty chairman Rich Westfall. “It’s just one of the greatest experiences these young kids could have.”
The Rapiscan Tournment is set to tee off this Friday at Fallen Oak. Entry will be free all weekend thanks to Coca-Cola, who bought all of the tickets. Gates open at 10 a.m. Friday as the pros hit the course, in pursuit of the trophy, the $240,000 winner’s check and the honor of being called champion.