Editorial: Golf clinic gives kids life lessons
We were at Turpin Park in Ridgeland Saturday morning as The First Tee of the Lowcountry hosted the first of five planned free golf clinics.
A tennis ball was placed on a tee and kids struck the ball and then ran around bases, intent on making mad dashes to home plate.
The introductory game that combined golf and baseball served as a starting point to help kids get accustomed to golf.
The First Tee’s Bob Valentino, a Sun City resident, taught the youngsters how to hold the club and the fine points of a proper swing.
For more than an hour Valentino worked with several kids to help them understand the sport and get them comfortable taking swings at the ball.
At the start of the session a couple of the youngsters had trouble making contact, but by the end of the morning they were hitting solid line drives into the field.
The progress was fulfilling to see, but it was just part of The First Tee’s program.
Valentino also spoke to the children about life skills, which is at the core of The First Tee’s initiative. He showed them how to formally shake hands and everyone was encouraged to introduce themselves to the others. He talked about cleaning up around the house and the importance of helping others.
“It’s kind of fascinating how you progress in life,” Valentino said.
Valentino, who also volunteers at Jasper’s Boys &Girls Club, said golf is just a part of how the program hopes to reach children.
“The kids are our primary focus,” he said.
The program for 7- to 17-year-olds, brought to Ridgeland through a partnership with the town and The First Tee, aims to focus on values that help kids mature. The hope is the nine values – honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment – will spur children on to improved lives.
Valentino and The First Tee, which has been involved in the county’s schools with National School Program classes at Ridgeland and Hardeeville’s elementary schools and at Royal Live Oaks Academy, plans to continue with free classes for the next four Saturdays.
Last Saturday was just the start, but it was good to see some kids get exposed to golf and also be encouraged to learn life skills. Valentino said one of the program’s goals is to have kids think about what they can achieve.
“It’s about giving them thoughts on what they can do with their lives,” he said.
We encourage the county’s parents to visit The First Tee of the Lowcountry’s website and sign-up for the free clinics (space is limited), and head to Turpin Park. The kids will not only get golf lessons, but some life lessons too.