Junior golf program concludes with annual round at Desert Peaks Golf Club
Young golfers took over Desert Peaks Golf Club last Tuesday evening to celebrate the conclusion of another summer learning the sport.
The Jefferson County junior golf program is an annual staple of the summer golf season in Madras. For $25, kids ages 3-14 spend two nights a week — one at Willow Creek Driving Range, the other at Desert Peaks — learning the game from local golfers including Carl Lindgren, Chris DuPont and Brian Ringering.
Over the course of the program, which lasted from mid June to late July, 24 kids participated in the program.
This year's group was on the younger side, which meant a lot of first-time players. Instructors teach kids the fundamentals, with the hope that some will develop a passion to keep on playing.
"My expectations for these kids is to have a good time, learn the fundamentals, and then if they really want to go further, then there's other programs in Central Oregon that can take them into tournament golf."
Since the Madras High golf program became dormant in 2013, the community has been starved for a new generation of golfers to emerge.
It might seem like a pipe dream, but Lindgren hopes that the program will inspire kids to continue playing .
"I'd love to see a golf program come back here some time in the future, but it's a tough row," he said.
Lindgren said very few kids continue playing golf on a regular basis once the program is over. Part of the reason is because kids tend to specialize in certain sports leading up to high school. The other part, Lindgren believes, is that golf isn't considered "cool" amongst kids in high school, but once they go off to college, many discover a newfound appreciation for the sport.
Another thing working against the Madras golf community is a lack of young parents who play golf. Similar to many other sports, kids follow the interests of their parents.
"We got a gap between twenty-somethings who don't have kids playing a lot of golf ... but then you have those just married with kids who don't play, which is too bad," Lindgren said.
From the looks of the field playing last Tuesday at Desert Peaks, there could very well be a few kids who are only just getting started playing.
For Ashton Carl and Jake Gassner, two kids who play other sports such as football basketball and soccer, golf has grown on them in a short time of playing.
"It's less painful than football," Carl said.
Both Carl and Gassner agreed they would like to continue playing golf.
If they, or any other kids who participated in the program, continue playing, it is always a good sign for the future in the Madras golf community.