By Laurie Hanson
Kids dreaming of being the next Tiger Woods learn golf and life fundamentals on Fridays at Camp S.H.A.R.K. in Rossmoor Park. About 20 kids have a swinging good time thanks to skilled instructors from PlayTGA of Long Beach and their partnership with The Youth Center this summer.
“The kids are doing great in class!” said PlayTGA golf coach Kevin Oliver who has played the sport for 20 years, and instructed the last two years. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that kids generally have better than average hand eye coordination. Sometimes we just have to let them show it by giving them a safe space to swing away and see what they can do.”
Always ready with clubs, baskets of balls and a ready smile Coach Kevin said, “Sports, and golf in particular, can teach us a lot about life. Things like sportsmanship, perseverance, leadership and much more can be cultivated from each and every experience.”
Kids learn techniques in how to properly grip the club like holding a “hot dog,” how to “sweep the floor” when swinging, how to aim and stand properly with the right posture. Aside from that, the coaches try not to force too much on them so they can enjoy themselves first and foremost. Typically they are introduced to one new lesson each class to build upon a foundation, explained Coach Kevin.
“I want to hit the ball as far as Tiger Woods and play when I grow up,” said 8-year-old Joseph, a first time golf student who’s thinking of taking the class throughout the summer.
In her third golf class, also aspiring to be like Tiger Woods, is 9-year-old Audrina. She likes learning all the different techniques like “half swings,” and how Coach Kevin breaks things down.
“I like how Kevin makes it easy for us, and I like hitting the ball into the hole, because sometimes we try to hit it the farthest,” said Audrina. She and 8-year-old is Abby hope to play with family members and continue to play when grown up. The same is true for 10-year-old Elliot, who proudly drove a ball past and in between two driving target flags set into place in her first class.
PlayTGA offers sport instruction to week-long camps and after school enrichment programs throughout Long Beach, Seal Beach and Los Alamitos. They teach fundamentals and improvement through station-based learning and repetition instruction in golf, tennis, volleyball and lacrosse.
“We believe sports can change lives,” said Coach Kevin. “It’s our job to create lifelong sports enthusiasts out of each and every student.”
“We came onboard with Camp S.H.A.R.K. because I felt it was a mutual belief to offer affordable, youth programs which are much needed in our communities,” he said. “Especially ones that focus on getting kids off the couch and out from behind their devices long enough to engage with one another and learn what life has to offer.” Camp S.H.A.R.K. offers a total electronics-free summer day camp experience to children ages 5 to 12.
“I have been lucky to be a part of sports my entire life, and its’ afforded me many lessons on how to be successful,” continued Coach Kevin. “I am just honored that we can pass those lessons on to the children of our great communities to keep the future bright.”