The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Beaver Meadow Youth Camps and Lessons

When: The next camp is from Tuesday, July 8, to Friday, July 11, from noon to 5 p.m.; youth golf lessons are available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Call the pro-shop for available times.
Where: Beaver Meadow Golf Course, 1 Beaver Meadow Road, Concord
Cost: Golf camps are $195; golf lessons are $60 for a private session, $150 for three lessons
Call: 228-8954

Fore the kids
Beaver Meadow offers youth camps to reverse a trend


 It seems the level of interest in golf for children and teens isn’t what it used to be. 

Over the past quarter of a century, golf clubs have seen caddies replaced by pull carts and course prices continuing to rise. Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord faced an even bigger challenge when the city assumed ownership of the course and, by law, the minimum age to work at the course became 18.
Ed Deshaies, a PGA professional and director of player development at Beaver Meadow, believes these factors are deterring young kids from spending time on the golf course.
“I read a stat in a golf magazine about two months ago where the demographic of golfers 17 to 30 has fallen off by 40 percent,” he said. “That’s the area where they’re just getting out of high school, so now they’re no longer junior members. So you go from paying $300 a year ... to be a college player, it’s like $700. Then you don’t have as much time because most players probably have summer jobs, then they have to pay for college. Things have changed tremendously.”
To combat this dramatic change in the golf world, Deshaies and the rest of the staff have been hosting a series of youth-oriented programs over the summer at Beaver Meadow. Their goal is to encourage players to hit the links while they are young, which the PGA pro believes is important in this particular sport because of how easy it is for players to develop bad habits that only grow worse with age.
That, and the fact that kids’ lessons are easier to teach than the adults’ lessons anyway.
“Kids are easy because they can imitate. Some of the kids in the camp this week have never been on a course before. Now they can play nine holes twice, [and] they have decent scores. They feel like golfers already, where adults,” Deshaies said laughing, “sometimes will take six lessons and three months later, they’ll sneak out at 7 in the morning when no one can see them ‘cause they don’t want to be embarrassed. But that’s just the nature of golf.”
During his childhood, Deshaies said, it was his experiences caddying and working on a variety of courses around New Hampshire that helped him learn the fundamentals and etiquette of the game. That has helped him be on the lookout for some of the more common challenges a young golfer has to face.
According to Deshaies, execution when swinging the club can go wrong with the slightest movement. To help combat poor form, as well as appeal to the younger, more tech-savvy generation, he uses an app on his iPad to record kids when they swing. The app allows Deshaies to identify problems in the three different swing positions: grip and posture, back-swing, and the finish, the latter of which is the hardest to teach.
“The impact is all that really matters, so we take it step by step,” he said. “You go from putt to chip to pitch to drive. We progress at their rate, so when they start having success we move on. As your swing gets bigger, then we start using longer clubs.”
Without the resources for youths to have on-field experience like caddying, Deshaies and the other instructors have put it on themselves to teach the etiquette during the camps. According to Deshaies, knowing to fix the divots and maintain the sand traps is just as essential to the game as learning proper grip or swing techniques.
“We try to bring [the etiquette] in, not just consideration of others, but consideration of the course,” he said. “We use the ‘rake, repair, replace’ model. We teach them ‘leave the course better than the way you found it.’ That motto is going to be on my tombstone.”
Matt Schmidt, the executive director of the New Hampshire Golf Association, agrees that learning etiquette is a must. One of the prerequisites for signing up for the Junior Golf Association tour, which Schmidt took over in 1998, is for golfers to take an etiquette quiz. Only players who pass the quiz are allowed to compete in the tournaments, so when tournament time comes and players are assigned to a foursome for a tee-time, they can treat other players with respect.
“It’s important to realize that they are going to be spending 18 holes interacting with three other players, getting along with them, and it’s important for them to know how to act,” said Schmidt.
But just as important, said Schmidt, is stimulating youth interest in golf. 
“We want it to be a fun experience, for golfers to really go out and enjoy themselves,” said Schmidt. “It’s important to interact with the people you’re playing with, not so much with what you’re struggling with.”
Deshaies said the crucial factor separating golf from any other sport is the self-discipline that the kids have to develop. In other sports, it can sometimes be in your favor to do something that’s against the rules. But in golf, being blacklisted as a cheater is a lot harder to shake.
“If you watch baseball or football, players can get away with a call, like they’re safe when they’re really out or they make a reception when it wasn’t a catch,” said Deshaies. “In golf, you only see players calling penalties on themselves. You learn a lot of life lessons about being a cheater. You’re only cheating yourself.” 
As seen in the July 3, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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