NOT YOUR AVERAGE DAY CAMP: LIV GOLF HOSTS FIRST YOUTH CLINIC AT BEDMINSTER
Written by MIKE McALLISTER
BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Ian Poulter, while handing out putting tips Wednesday during LIV Golf’s first-ever youth clinic, casually mentioned that he recently holed a 162-foot putt.
“Do you know how far that is in yards?” he asked the group of kids in his putting group.
One boy raised his hand, then started doing the math. Using his fingers to help with the counting, he finally came up with the answer.
“54,” he beamed.
“That’s right!” Poulter replied with a wide smile and a high five. “54.”
Hmm, that number sounds familiar.
It was one of the brief but impactful teaching moments for the 35 kids on the practice green at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, site of this week’s third LIV Golf Invitational event of the inaugural season.
The day before, staff at the nearby Somerset Hills YMCA in Basking Ridge received an invite to participate in the LIV Golf clinic. Emails were sent to parents of the youth in the team travel and sports day camps, and the opportunity was quickly accepted.
Travel plans were arranged. The kids arrived promptly Wednesday morning to make sure they made the bus on time. And they just didn’t roll out of bed, said Sally Roser, director of child care at Somerset Hills.
“They had a little bit of gel in their hair,” she observed. “And they wore belts! … They knew to be on their best golf manners.”
Not everybody was allowed to attend, though.
“There were a lot of parents trying to sneak themselves on the bus today when they heard we had this opportunity to be here,” laughed Roser.
Upon arrival, the kids were ushered to the practice green and split into three groups to learn how to putt. Most had never gripped a putter or taken a swing with a golf club.
Bedminster’s teaching pros first began the instruction. Then LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman arrived with Poulter, Spanish amateur David Puig and LIV Golf reserve player Shergo Kurdi.
“One of the best things you can do growing up is play sports,” Norman told the kids, adding that any sport provides “an opportunity to play with friends.” He then asked if any of them played sports. Yes, said one boy.
“Which one?” Norman said.
“Cricket,” was the reply.
For the Australian Norman, it was an unexpected – and pleasant – surprise.
Each established player provided hands-on instruction for their group, with Norman moving between all three to offer his advice. In helping the kids get a feel for speed and distance, Poulter asked his group of kids to grab a golf ball and roll it by hand to the cup.
“Like a bowling ball,” he explained. “You can actually start to feel how far you need to go.”
After the putting lesson, the kids went to lunch. Poulter headed straight for the first tee; his practice group had already teed off. Puig and Kurdi also went back to work.
“For me, it’s always a big part of the game of golf,” Poulter said about the importance of youth clinics. “Just like with my kids, teaching them a sport, teaching them an activity they can not only play in their family surroundings but with their mates – it’s just so good.
“It’s so rewarding any time there’s an opportunity to teach somebody a skill. It serves a great purpose. It’s nice to have some kids and see them enjoying the game.”
As for the boys and girls at Somerset Hills YMCA?
Roser said she kept hearing the same word from many of them: “Wow.”
“To get individual one-on-one instruction from Greg Norman – that’s a dream come true, not only for the kids but my staff as well,” she said. “This is not one of our normal day trips. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”