The Austin Junior Golf Academy, hosted by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and conducted by their Golf Department, concluded Friday and was a resounding success for the 344 participants. There were 325 young golfers in the age 5-13 groups and 19 participants in the 14-18 age group.
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Hancock Golf Course, the original home of Austin Country Club, was the Academy site for age 5-13 year old participants, some of which are shown in this photo. There were beginning and advanced categories and participants were groups accordingly.
The Jimmy Clay/Roy Kizer Golf Complex hosted the 14-18 year olds. Eric Lopez ,head of instruction at Clay/Kizer, works with the 14-18 group. They receive instruction and play the par three course at the Clay/Kizer complex one day and then play Jimmy Clay golf course on the final day of the Academy.
Participants rotated from one station to the next every 35 minutes. The staff of the City Golf Department were creative in making the activities fun as well as instructional. For example, one station which required a shot through goal posts to promoted hitting lofted shots.
At another station contestents chipped from off the green to a pin. In each of these activities, participants were awarded "Academy Bucks" for successful completion of the activities. At the conclusion of the academy these academy bucks are redeemed for prizes.
Each group of kids were supervised by camp counselers that are hired by the City of Austin. These counselors are mostly from area high schools and they help insure the safety and enjoyment of the participants. They make sure the kids get from one station to the next. A horn blows every 35 minutes and the kids rotate to the next station.
The Academy was originally founded by Joe Balander, Lloyd Morrison and George Hannon who were the head golf professionals at Jimmy Clay/Roy Kizer, Lions Municipal and Morris Williams Golf Municipal Golf Courses. The Academy has been continued by the city ever since and through the years thousands of boys and girls who might not have had the opportunity otherwise, have been introduced to the game of golf and benefited by participating in Academy. Beth Cleckler, Steve Hammond, Lloyd Morrison and Kevin Gomillion and all the Austin Golf Staff have spearheaded this year's activities and they were assisted by other city employees and volunteers.
Volunteers from the golfing community such as Billy Clagett, one of Austin's best golfers over the years, participated as instructors. Clagett said it has been one of the most rewarding activities he's done over the years and loves being around the kids. He looks forward to it each year. He said "You look across that golf course and see all these kids playing golf and it's just great. Hancock is part of my old stopming grounds and where I learned to play this great game. Seeing it full of kids reminds me of my experiences here and it's a blast."
Fees for the academy were $110 for the 5-13 and $125 for the 14-18 age group. Participants receive a personalized bag tag with their picture on it, a golf cap, a tee shirt, golf balls, cliff energy bars, golf balls, and a punch card good for four rounds of golf at any municipal golf course in Austin and five large buckets of practice balls. In some cases, scholarships are given to cover the registration fees for participants that need financial assistance. This year there were 25 scholarships awarded.
The expenses for the Academy were funded by the registration fees and donations from the Hannon Cup Association, which has contributed annually to the Austin Golf Academy for over a decade. Thanks to all who support the Hannon Cup Association. For more information about how you can get involved in that organization, click here.
For kids that don't have clubs, clubs were provided and there was a fitting session to insure they have proper equipment. The Hannon Cup Association donated funds for clubs and these are used by the participants.
The Cliff Energy Bar Corporation donated energy bars to keep the energy levels up and the Achunet Corporation's representative Dave O'Connell donated Titleist Golf Balls for the participants. Many thanks to those folks for their support of the Academy.
The schedule for the academy was as follows.
Session 1 June 4 -8 8:00AM –11:30AM / Ages 5 -13
Session 2 June 11 -15 8:00AM –11:30AM / Ages 5 -13
Session 3 June 11 -15 1:00PM –5:00PM / Ages 14 –18