The Children Lose Out

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Editor:

A few years ago some friends started a summer golf camp for kids ages 10 to 15. The purpose of the camp was simple: provide an opportunity for Payson kids to acquaint themselves with the game of golf in an adult-supervised atmosphere while focusing on the fundamentals of the game: posture, grip, alignment and ball position.

Harry Parson of the Payson Golf Course donated his practice facility and range balls for the exclusive use of the kids three afternoons each week from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The intent was not to create PGA professionals, but to offer a learning opportunity to kids who otherwise may not have had that chance. What the kids chose to do with the experience was left to them.

Interestingly enough, five kids who are “graduates” of the summer camp are now on the Payson High School golf team. Critical to the program was the backing of the Parks and Recreation Department under director Cameron Davis. The program needed the insurance protection offered by Parks and Rec. In the event that some participant hit an errant shot or had a 7 iron fly from his/her hands and injure a fellow participant. Simple enough.

The participants were charged $30 for the camp and averaged 25 kids each summer: $750 total of which $500 was given to the founders for use in Payson High School golfers to instruct, (all others donated their time including members of the Golf Professional Staffs at Chaparral Pines and The Rim Club).

The remaining $250 was given to Parks and Rec. So there was a win-win-win situation: kids learned, high schoolers had summer jobs and Parks and Rec made a little money. Life is good. Then something went wrong. Mr. Davis decided that the focus of the program should be on the talented few (quality vs. quantity in his words).

It is important to note here that Mr. Davis did not, to my knowledge, ever make an appearance at any of the classes, and further, there was never any clarification as to who would determine the parameters for “talent” and who would choose the few who would be allowed to enter the program.

So, without the (insurance) assistance of Parks and Rec, the program has died. There will be no kids golf camp this summer.

Once again, some self-serving government lightweight has ruined a good thing for reasons I cannot understand. It’s too late to salvage the program this year, but we should look to the future, if it takes a change in “leadership” so be it. But the challenge is to give the golf program back to the kids. They are the losers here. Your help is appreciated.

Kevin Kelley

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