Members of the Minot Junior Golf Association want children to come out and play this summer.
Specifically, they want them to play golf at the Jack Hoeven Wee Links, and they are hoping that letting children play for free on Fridays through August will entice them. Geared toward children ages 12 and younger, the Friday promotion waives the $1 fee to play nine holes and includes free use of clubs and balls.
Parents can walk along with the golfers at no charge or pay $5 to golf with them. Each hole has two tee boxes to accommodate beginners and advanced players.
Jill Schramm/MDN --
Tyson Rasmussen, front, and Destin Mitz prepare their shots on the green during golf lessons at Souris Valley Golf Course Friday.
The association also has contacted area golf courses in North Dakota and Canada to invite them to schedule a youth golf day in Minot. Area communities will be able to bring busloads of kids for free golf and lunch. The Boys and Girls Clubs on the Fort Berthold Reservation already are making plans.
Wee Links has been popular since it opened in 2003, but lately participation has levelled off. The association would like to jumpstart interest again.
"The mission of Minot Junior Golf is to get more kids playing," said Reed Argent, board member. With free golfing and the chance to get help from experienced staff and volunteers, more boys and girls might give the game a try, he said.
The association has teamed up with local business sponsors to offer free Fridays that will include a variety of games in conjunction with the golf.
"It will be a lot of fun for the kids. It's learning and fun at the same time," said Steve Kottsick, golf pro at Souris Valley Golf Course and association board member,
New this year will be posters in the club house for boys and girls to record their birdies over the summer. A child who records a birdie at each of the nine holes is eligible for a prize. The new program is sponsored through the Charlie and Kay Ruppert memorials.
The posters are in addition to the existing plaque recognizing hole-in-one achievements of young golfers.
The association is working with the North Dakota Extension Service to provide healthy snack alternatives and teach kids about the right kind of eating to stay on top of their games.
There is talk of starting a youth league to create more opportunity for competition. The association is scheduling city match play for kids, city stroke play, a Fathers Day event and a Pepsi tournament at Wildwood, Souris Valley and Apple Grove in July. The Dakota Junior Tour also is scheduled.
The association continues to provide youth golf lessons and to conduct the First Tee program, which uses golf to teach life skills such as honesty, responsibility and sportsmanship.
In August, the association again will hold its Golf for Kids with Unique Abilities day in cooperation with the Dream Catchers program.
Kottsick said the association wants to increase the focus on transitioning youth to the regular course when they are ready. Wee Links is ideal for the very young or inexperienced because it is smaller and less intimidating, he said. But at some point, young golfers will be ready for a bigger challenge, and the intent is to give them exposure so they will be comfortable on the regular course, he said.
The association continues to look at other ways to improve its programming, too.
"If parents want to get involved, we need all the help we can get. We need ideas," Kottsick said.
For information on the Wee Links course and association programs, call Wee Links at 857-1570 or Kottsick at 240-0593 or visit (www.weelinks.org).