Nine years ago Bob Sizemore, golf pro Tom Walsh and the Birch Ridge Golf Association brought the first Hook a Kid on Golf program to the Kenai Peninsula. Hook a Kid on Golf is a national program started some 20 years ago in Florida by Fred Engh.
The mission of Hook a Kid on Golf is to provide communities with a comprehensive youth golf program that eliminates all the obstacles that discourage youngsters from learning and continuing to play golf while instilling in them an understanding of golf’s rules, etiquette and history explained Bob Sizemore. At the 2013 Hook a Kid on Golf graduation June 1st at Birch Ridge Sizemore talked about the program and the national award they received, “It’s a fundamental golf program designed for kids who have never played and do not own a set of golf clubs. During the camp we provide them with the fundamentals of golf, rule book, balls, a golf shirt & hat, along with a set of new clubs and a golf bag, everything they need to continue playing while they are growing up,” he said.
Along with the gear comes professional instruction from not just one certified golf pro but three at the Birch Ridge Hook a Kid camp, “You will probably not find that any where else in the country. We are very unique in that regard,” said Sizemore. “The program just keeps getting better and better each year,” added golf pro Tom Walsh, “We try to make it fun for the kids so that will keep coming back and fall in love with the game,” he said. The efforts of golf pros Walsh, Nolan Rose and Bill Engberg as instructors with the Hook a Kid on Golf program have not gone unnoticed and recently the Birch Ridge Golf Assoc. was recognized with a national award of excellence, “The Award is called the Don Springer award and is given each year by the National Alliance of Youth Sports Hook a Kid on Golf and recognizes the best site in the nation for the Hook a Kid on Golf program and we were fortunate enough to be honored with that award this year,” said Sizemore. The Birch Ridge Golf Assoc. is the financial sponsor of the program but Sizemore is also quick to recognize the core group of volunteers like Jane Stein and Tom Boedeker that are always there to support the program.
Hook a Kid on Golf has two camps each year one at Birch Ridge in Soldotna and one at the Kenai Golf course with 60 to 70 kids participating in each camp. For more information about next year’s program or to volunteer contact Tom Walsh at the Pro Shop at Birch Ridge or go on line at the Birch Ridge Golf Assoc. website to register. “We encourage kids and parents to participate each year and to keep playing. It’s a great game for learning life skills and getting kids outdoors, away from their e-games and involved with a physical activity,” said Walsh.