GALVESTON

Moody Gardens Golf Course hosts its golf academy year-round to help prepare younger golfers for high school competition and the future of golf itself.

First assistant golf professional Chris Caldwell said they have been doing this camp for about two-and-a half years. On average, they can have anywhere from three to six kids. During last fall, especially when golf starts to pick up, they reached a peak number of about 10 kids.

“I think it’s really important in Galveston, especially Galveston because there’s not as big of a junior golf movement as far as if you go on the mainland,” Caldwell said. “You’ve got schools up there where it’s so competitive there’s actually cuts where kids don’t make the team because they have been playing for a long time at a young age.”

Caldwell and second assistant golf professional Justin Cann want to get children playing before they reach high school. Caldwell said Ball High’s golf coach typically will have golfers who have zero prior experience. This academy gives the kids experience of being on a golf course because it’s year-round.

“It’s nice to have a year or two under your belt of just being on the golf course period,” Caldwell said.

This academy is beneficial for children who want to improve their skills. Caldwell said he didn’t start playing golf until he was a freshman in high school. One of the academy students, 10-year-old Justice Goss played his first tournament last year, and Caldwell said this is huge to him.

“It’s a different animal,” Caldwell said. “It’s not like going to a bowling alley and throwing bumpers in the gutters and just going at it. Besides your ability to play, there’s so many things on the golf course that you need to be familiar with, just etiquette wise.”

The academy allows golfers to have a place to come to even during the school year. The academy kids can still come to the golf course even if they are not having an academy class that day.

“They’re allowed to come out and get a bucket of golf balls for free for any of the academy kids,” Caldwell said. “They can come out on their own time, anytime they want to get a bucket of balls and chip and putt and hit all day.

“That’s one of the other things that I like about it is just the access that it gives them.”

Goss likes to come to the golf academy because he can practice a lot while having fun. He also said when he gets older, he will be better, which could result in him receiving a golf scholarship.

“He is the most consistent student here, and he’s been playing for little over a year and to watch him grow and get better, it’s rewarding,” Cann said.

Cann started playing golf at 7 years old and Caldwell has been playing since his freshman year of high school. Between the both of them, they have plenty of experience to help teach these younger golfers like Goss.

“Because they are the best and they help me a lot,” Goss said.

Cann said they focus on the basics, so they can have a solid golfing foundation. The academy does different drills involving putting, chipping and practicing on the driving range. When they take the kids onto the golf course, Caldwell said they will understand why they hit 100 practice chips because they can apply it to the course.

“We want to see them enjoy the game and grow the game for the future and not only is golf a great game; it’s the only game you can play until you’re 90.” Cann said. “And the values of the game also help in life just to be a better person, do the right thing because it’s the only sport where you can call your own rules.”

Caldwell said they have had roughly about 12 kids come through here off and on since the academy started. He said these kids are the next generation of golfers, so it’s important to get them interested now.

“If they don’t play, it basically ends with a certain generation,” Caldwell said. “It’s got to continue. It’s very important that they continue doing it at a young age.”

Keenan Betz: 409-683-5242; keenan.betz@galvnews.com; or on Twitter @surebetkeenan

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