Getting into the swing of things: The Junior Golf camps available this summer

Kevin Markham looks at some of the Junior Golf Camps available this summer.

I was introduced to golf when I was five years old. Over the following years, I played many sports but golf was always something I returned to. And starting young, while not essential — Pádraig Harrington was 16 when he picked up a club — is the key to unlocking talent as well as a child’s lifelong passion for the game.

Golf clubs everywhere acknowledge this and Junior Camps are now offered widely throughout the summer months.

These are structured, well thought out, and safe environments where the uninitiated can discover if golf is something they truly want to pursue and where those already enjoying the game can hone their skills.

Here is a limited list of confirmed camps. If a local course is not included here pick up the phone and enquire if they’re holding one. Chances are good that they will be.

FERMOY

The golf club is 4km from town and set on Corrin Hill. The current junior programme has been running for three years.

Dates and times: Started Tuesday June 11 and takes place every Tuesday until August 20. Camp runs from 9.30am to 12.30pm. Participants attend as often as required.

Who is it for? Boys and girls aged 10 to 18.

Skills/ handicaps required? Abilities range from beginner to single figure handicap golfers.

What food is included? Food is available separately in the bar.

Coaches: PGA pro, Michael Collins.

Access to the course: Yes, as their abilities progress.

Are membership packages available? Various juvenile membership categories are available and depend on age.

Cost: There is a weekly charge of €3, in addition to the up front €10 to take part in the on course coaching. Please note that all participants must join the club to be covered by insurance and use the facilities.

Contact Michael Wren on 087 2921232.

FOTA ISLAND

Fota Island needs no introduction and nor does its Golf Academy, which opened in 2006. Junior programmes of one sort or another have been running since then and the facilities provided are among the best in the country.

Dates and times: July 17-19, and August 14-16, running from 10am-1pm.

Who is it for? Boys and girls aged between 7 and 13.

Skills/ handicaps required? The focus is on introducing beginners to the fundamentals of the game.

What food is included? Food is available separately in the bar.

Coaches: Brian Kelleher and Ronan Collins: both are experienced PGA golf professionals with an excellent reputation.

Access to the course? Fota Island has adapted the Barryscourt course specifically to assist with these programmes.

Are membership packages available? There are no specific membership packages for these camps but several packages are available to juniors and parents alike, including Academy membership, 9-hole membership and junior membership. In addition, a few novel coaching programmes are available across the 12 months for parents and children.

Cost: €95

Contact 021 4883700 or pshop@fotaisland.ie.

KILLARNEY

When the full 18-hole course at Lackabane closed in 2012, Killarney Golf & Fishing Club was able to create a practice area including a nine-hole Academy course and floodlit driving range. Not surprisingly this has greatly benefitted golfers of all abilities. The club’s coaching programmes, however, had been running for many years before that. Today, that combination of experience and facilities ensures a finely tuned programme for boys and girls aged 7 to 14.

Dates and times: Two-day golf camps will run from 10.30am-3.30pm on July 9-10, July 18-19, July 23-24, Aug 8-9, Aug 15-16, Aug 27-28.

Skills/handicaps required? Beginner, Novice and Improver.

What food is included? Lunch is included on both days.

Coaches: Coaching is provided by PGA Professional Mark Heinemann and Ciaran McKenna.

Access to the course: Participants will have access to the golf course.

Are membership packages available? Membership packages are available.

Cost? €69 for the 2 days.

Contact 087 2209663 or email golfacademy@killarneygolfclub.ie

SHANNON

This is the second year of programme and it is being run again after the tremendous success of last year when more than 30 kids took part. Coaching is headed up by the club Pro, Artie Pyke, with assistance from Junior officers and volunteers.

Dates and times: This is a six-session programme running from 9am to 11am on July 1, 2, 8, 9, 22 and 23.

Who is it for? Boys and girls aged under 10.

Skills/ handicaps required? Ideal for beginners.

What food is included? No food available.

Access to the course? There is no access to the course for participants. They will, however, become junior members of the club.

What is the format? Kids are split into groups and everyone gets a session with Artie each day. This rotates day-by-day, through grip/posture, swing, putting, chipping, hitting balls into a target net etc...the last hour is spent on a six-hole mini golf course developed on the driving range (average hole length of 60-100 yards).

Cost: €40

Contact Keith Buckley on 087 758 8688.

ROSCREA

This old parkland club sits not far from the M7, just east of town.

Dates and times: July 8-10, 9.30am-12.30pm

Who is it for? Girls and boys, aged 6 and over. Equipment provided.

Skills/ handicaps required? Beginners welcome. The fundamentals of golf are covered in a fun way.

What food is included?Particpants receive lunch on the final day. Water provided throughout by the Pro.

Coaches: PGA professional from Nenagh GC, Eanna Jones.

Access to the course? Participants will play the last three holes for fun on last day.

Cost? €35 Members, €40 non-Members.

Get in touch through the club’s Facebook page or in the clubhouse bar.

ELM GREEN

The very popular pay-and-play public course lies just inside Dublin’s M50. The summer camps are taking shape and are now in their fourth year. The first camp (July 8-11) is full but the second camp has spaces remaining.

Dates and times: July 29-Aug 1. Four days from 10am-1pm.

Who is it for? Boys and girls aged 7 to 13.

Skills/ handicaps required? Beginners and improvers.

What food is included? Food is available separately in the clubhouse.

Coaches: Graham Sweeney, PGA Professional.

Access to the course: Participants will play the Pitch & Putt course and may experience the main course, depending on availability.

Are membership packages available? Junior membership is available from €100, for 8-17 year olds.

Cost: €89 Contact graham.sweeney@carrgolf.com

KILRUSH

Many of Ireland’s more rural clubs have junior programmes that thrive and survive thanks to the efforts of volunteers. This is the case at Kilrush, Co. Clare, where junior members are coached on Sunday evenings.

Dates and times: Sunday evenings, June through September, from 5.30pm-7.30pm.

Who is it for? Boys and girls in the club aged 10 to 18.

Skills/handicaps required? Beginners and above.

What food is included? Participants bring their own, if required.

Coaches: Three volunteers from the club.

Access to the course: Tuition and challenges take place on a four-hole loop. There’s also the ‘Rory’ challenge with a washing machine providing a fun element.

Participants must be members of the club… but the cost for Juniors to join is just €70 for the year.

Contact Kilrush Golf Club on 065 9051138.

LUTTRELLSTOWN CASTLE

The plush Luttrellstown Castle Golf Club has superb facilities and a finely tuned Junior tuition programme run by Peter O’Hagan.

Dates and times: July 1-4, Aug 6-9, from 10am to 11am.

Who is it for? Boys and girls from 4 to 12 years of age, approximately. Classes are limited to 10.

Skills/handicaps required? Beginners and above.

Coach: Peter O’Hagan, PGA Professional.

Access to the course: Participants are coached on the range and possibly the club’s par three course.

Are membership packages available? The club does not have a Junior category.

Cost: €50.

Contact Peter on 087 8154366.

FAITHLEGG

With the hotel serving as a backdrop and the options of lodge or hotel accommodation, the junior camp at Faithlegg could well be a family affair. Juniors – beginners specifically – have been coached here for 15 years and the PGA Pro looking after the five-day camp is Derry Kiely.

Dates and times: July 8-12, from 9.30am to 11.30am.

Who is it for? Boys and girls from 5 to 12 years of age.

Skills/handicaps required? Beginners.

What food is included? Small treats provided on the last day.

Access to the course: A scramble will be played on the final day.

Are membership packages available? Yes Cost: €50 for the week and €40 for second/third child.

Contact Derry on proshop@faithlegg.com or 087 2398856.

ROSSLARE

The links at Rosslare is a peach. Low and oscillating it is a perfect setting for learning the origins of how golf should be played. The club’s Golf Camp has been running for six years and, unlike most other camps, it takes place in the afternoon. For all of those families staying at Kelly’s Resort, here’s an ideal way to keep the youngsters engaged.

Dates and times: Three separate camps run from 3pm-6pm. Dates are July 2-4, July 9-11, July 16-18.

Who is it for? Girls and boys aged 6 to 14.

Skills/handicaps required? All standards from beginner to elite.

What food is included? Water and fruit will be provided.

Coaches: PGA Head Professional Jamie O’Sullivan and PGA assistant professional Jamie Dreelan.

Access to the course: The camp takes place at the driving range and short game areas. Some of the course is walked to explain the different features.

Are membership packages available? Participants will receive certificates of competence to join as members.

Cost: €40.

Contact Jamie in Rosslare Pro Shop on 053 9132032.

GALWAY BAY

The mystical Galway Bay Golf Resort is as captivating as it is perfectly maintained. Practice facilities are extensive and the views are glorious. It all adds up to a heady combination for those learning or improving their game. PGA Professional, Dara Ford, is running the Camps for the third year in a row.

Dates and times? August 12-16, from 9.30am-2pm.

Who is catered for? Girls and boys in two categories: 7-9 and 10-13 years of age.

Skills/ handicaps required? All levels of golf.

What food is included? Participants bring their own snacks.

Coaches: Head PGA Pro Dara Ford and an assistant.

Access to the course? A Scramble competition will be played on the last day.

Are membership packages available? It is hoped that from January 2020 the club will offer positions to junior members.

Cost: €50 for the week.

Contact Dara on dara@galwaybaygolfresort.com or call the Pro Shop on 091 790711.

BALLYKISTEEN

Located in the heart of the Golden Vale and sitting alongside a hotel, the golf club is an attractive venue for families on holiday and locals who can relax in comfort while their kids are introduced to the joys of golf.

Dates and times? July 1-3, July 23-25, Aug 14-16.

Who is it for? There are two camps per day: Morning camp runs from 10am-12pm for girls and boys aged 6-10; Afternoon camp runs from 1pm-3pm for ages 11-15.

Skills/ handicaps required? All levels of ability, with fun being key to introducing kids to the skills of golf.

What food is included? Drink and snack provided.

Coaches: PGA Professionals David Ruddy and Marian Riordan.

Access to the course? This will depend on ability and size of group. Ideally a group will be taken on the course for a one-hole experience.

Are membership packages available? Junior Cadet (6-9 years) membership is €70 and Junior membership is €125.

Cost: €50 per child; two siblings €90.

Get in touch on 062 32117 or email golf@ballykisteenhotel.com.

Finally, you always can rely on the GUI Academy at Carton House, where various junior programmes will be provided.

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