Clinics seek to get a new generation hooked on golf

BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Country Club has been looking to both the past and future in recent months and continuing what club president Jason Kelley calls an effort to reintroduce the club to the community.

Taking note of the centenary, which will be official July 1, 2014, the club had club historian Robert Anderson give a tour of the old course - old as in pre-1930, when Wayne Stiles fashioned a new nine-hole route over Tom MacNamara's design.

And some sets of hickory-shafted clubs were on loan for a time to hit on the old first hole, the only one extant from 1914.

Two traditional games have been given modern dress and are open to all - duplicate bridge on Monday afternoons in the clubhouse and lawn bowling by arrangement with the pro shop.

Free tee times were up for grabs at an early May open house, and a free four-week program called SNAG (Starting New at Golf) was aimed at those picking up the sticks at an early age.

For a fee, junior clinics have been going on for a month, and one more is available to all on Aug. 1 at 9:30 a.m.

The SNAG program was perhaps most encouraging to those hoping to interest a new generation in golf, which may be why Jack Nicklaus has lent his name to boost the enterprise.

Youngsters with parents or grandparents in tow showed up at the open house to learn the fundamentals under the watchful eye of Eric Sandstrom, assistant John Wong, and member Kirk Nims.

Swinging colorful, oversized clubs, players would hit tennis balls toward Velcro targets, subtly learning the intricacies of the grip, stance, full and partial swings, and putting.

Presumably they'll learn to swear on their own.

“Golf is a game for a lifetime, so we hope you enjoy it,” Sandstrom said in his opening remarks to the new players.

Only time will tell whether any of the youngsters take to the game with the passion of the men and women who have walked the BCC course over the past century. But it's fun to imagine the possibilities.

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