The Coast News Group

Pro Kids opens its greens

OCEANSIDE — Pro Kids invites the community to celebrate the grand opening of its six-hole, par-3 golf course Jan. 19.The kid-scale golf course boasts holes with drive lengths of 60 to 80 yards. This makes it ideal for young players who are just learning the game.The course also offers the challenges of sand traps and hills.

Pro Kids is a nonprofit youth club that teaches children character development, life skills and values through education and the game of golf.

Members enjoy golf instruction, use of the greens, homework assistance, a computer lab and enrichment field trips.

On the course children learn the game of golf and the etiquette of shaking hands, knowing where to stand and when to talk.

“The golf program has a lot of depth to it,” Kathy Wilder, senior program director, said. “Golf is a very honorable activity with a lot of discipline. They learn self-discipline, focused practice, etiquette. They’re learning about putting their best foot forward interacting with other players.”

Unlike other after school programs there are no mandatory attendance requirements. Children can determine how often they come to the club. Once there, they are required to participate.

“The uniqueness of the program is the high expectation we place on kids for performance and participation,” Wilder said. “They develop a whole plethora of skills — life skills, golf skills, athletic skills.”

Golf instruction begins with skills training using oversize golf clubs and Velcro targets.

Once club members show sufficient aptitude they graduate to playing with golf clubs on the Pro Kids course.

The course has two tee boxes at each hole. Children progress from beginning tees to advanced tees.

The next step for club members is playing on area golf courses.

“It’s incredible how good they get,” Kevin Sheriff, Pro Kids golf coach, said.

Academics and enrichment activities are also important club components. Club members hunker down and complete homework before daily golf instruction begins. There are also opportunities for members to take field trips throughout the year.

Pro Kids works with Oceanside Unified School District and teaches six-week golf workshops at schools on a rotating basis. Children often become club members after being introduced to the game.

“Our program is a link in the chain of support for kids in this community,” Wilder said.

Membership runs $100 annually. There are also scholarships available.

“The vast majority of kids participate free of charge,” Wilder said. “We are a development-driven program. We really try to make it accessible to people.”

Pro Kids is located at 821 Douglas Drive. The grand opening is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 19.

Pro Kids also runs a golf program in City Heights.