Erich Kuhlman is trying to get a junior golf program off the ground at Solitude Links.
The Head PGA Professional at the course is having a bit of trouble drumming up interest, however, for his once-a-week lessons, which are $10 per session for kids ages 6 to 13. Why is that? There are several factors, actually.
There’s the multiple options for kids in that age group.
“It’s a fight for their attention these days,” Kuhlman said. “With soccer and this and that, vacations, I think that’s one of the reasons golf is taking a hit — it’s a fight for time.”
There’s the lack of name awareness for Solitude Links, which was formerly known as Fore Lakes.
“I could retire if I had a dollar for every time somebody called and said, ‘Is this the Fore Lakes?’” Kuhlman said. “This is my first year here, and from everything I know, the only thing that’s changed is the name. The course is coming along great.”
There’s also the fact that it’s rarely ever easy to start something from scratch.
“I guess if they’ve never had a program at the facility, it’s going to be slow going,” Kuhlman said. “Frankly, I wasn’t sure anyone was going to show up. Even though we put it on the website, and we sent an email blast weekly, including different things to our people, you just never know.”
There are two more sessions of the program, which will be held July 15 and 22 at the course. Kids ages 11 to 13 will meet from 9 to 10 a.m., ages 8 to 10 from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m., and ages 6 and 7 will meet from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Some golfers have taken advantage of the program, but because it’s a pay-as-you-come clinic, numbers vary.
“It changes week to week,” Kuhlman said. “We put out the dates and the times, and the amount per session and just went with it. I think the most we were able to drum up in a week was four. I did (week to week) to have as much flexibility as possible. Obviously, I’d have to adjust if I got bombarded, but that’s not the issue at the moment. Maybe I’ll do some more marketing in the fall to the schools in the area.”
Kuhlman’s gameplan with the clinics is to teach the basics, though teaching varies based on the skill level of the players.
“You never know what you’re going to get as far as a skill level,” Kuhlman said. “One young man that showed up just for one session, he was very advanced for a 9-year-old. He had really good fundamentals and made contact. You just have to make it fun for those that are already more advanced.
“A lot of it is basics when they’re that young — how to hold it, how to stand, consistently brushing the turf. Those things go a long way, especially when you’re getting started so young.”
On a larger scale, Kuhlman is hoping to help grow the game in the area.
“My wife read something that said if a youngster gets into golf at an early age, they’re more likely to play it their entire life, which makes a lot of sense,” he said. “It’s what you want to do as a professional, you want to keep the game going strong and try and get new people involved. Whether it’s a youngster or an adult, again, it’s a fight for time.”
For information on the clinics, call Kuhlman at (810) 982-3673, ext. 1.
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.