Aug. 25, 2021 — One of the sports that has remained available to all ages throughout the pandemic is golf. The sport is played outdoors and easily allows for social distancing. Golf is physical and provides the chance for exercise while focusing on a long term, multi-faceted approach to succeed.
Florence has two golf courses, and both will hold important events sponsored by the Oregon Golf Association (OGA) this week, drawing dozens of top-level youth golfers from around the state to this area for the competition.
Nik Remmer, the PGA Pro at Florence Golf Links, coordinated a unique effort to not only encourage healthy outdoor alternatives for youth but that hopes to re-energize a once successful community of young golfers in the Florence area.
“What we hope to achieve long term is more young golfers,” he said. “We want to give kids a sport they can play with a team or individually, and we want to give kids a skillset that they can use both on and off the golf course: professionalism, honor and good etiquette.”
Remmer was a four-year varsity golfer at Siuslaw High School in the 1990s and has been disappointed with the state of golf for students since becoming the pro at the golf course.
To further his wish to see a more active youth golf program in this area, Remmer has started the Florence Golf Links Junior Camp. The camp opened last week and continues this week through Thursday.
“When I came here in 2019, there were no kids playing golf, so we decided to hold a two-week camp,” Remmer said. “Kids can sign up for one week or two, and there is no cost to them. We will provide all of the equipment needed, the instruction and a meal while the kids are here.”
He started the camp with Jesse Schutte “because it was how we got into golf years ago,” Remmer said. “Jesse now plays golf professionally and I am a golf professional at Florence Golf Links because of junior camps when we were young right here in Florence.”
Remmer has come up with a plan for teaching the youth currently registered in the camp, which includes instruction at socially distanced stations on the practice range separated by age groups and club types.
The clubs and golf balls used by the campers are provided by the golf course.
Remmer hopes those who participate not only have a good time, but learn the underlying rules of golf — which stress sportsmanship, practice and respect for your competition.
This is the second week of the camp. The first week introduced the youth to the different types of clubs and the basic techniques of golf. All attendees got to hit as many shots as they would like.
Each group is assigned two volunteers, who work with each student individually and have a daily theme of instruction. Talented golfers are available to answer any questions they may have.
Remmer has decided to keep the camp no-cost so all who are interested can participate.
In addition, Florence Golf Links worked with Siuslaw School District to provide lunches to camp attendees, with other individuals and organizations offering assistance in purchasing additional meals for the participants.
“There is no charge for the camp. Florence Golf Links is donating the driving range and all the help is volunteer based,” Remmer said. “We realize that here is a cost to playing golf and we don’t want that to discourage any kids from playing, so we never charge junior golfers to play. As long as they are with an adult, just so they are supervised, we always let them play for free.”
There are 46 local kids signed up for the week, separate from the OGA Junior Tournament. The camp ran Aug. 17 to 19 and this week Aug. 24 to 26, with kids in attendance for three hours.
“Kids start with a lunch, some basic golf stretching and then break into groups for the day,” Remmer said. “We have four groups of kids separated by age and four stations: putting, chipping, irons and woods.”
For Remmer, one of the benefits of playing golf is the ability of all ages to participate in the sport. Golf can also be played at a high level by older individuals as well as younger players, which brings a cross-generational aspect to the game.
The Florence Golf Links Junior Camp age groups range from 5 to 17, comprised of both boys and girls. The volunteers helping teach the game are often in their 60s and 70s, and many have been playing much of their life.
“It only takes one solid golf shot to create a future golfer. Who knows, we may have future golf professionals here this week,” Remmer noted. “If you are a parent or grandparent and play golf, bring your kids with you to the course. We don’t charge for kids to come along with their parents while they play. Even if it is just walking along or riding in the cart.”
He said people can donate old balls and clubs to Junior Golf.
“Golf equipment can be expensive, and we use donated clubs and balls for juniors that don’t have any so they can play,” he added.
This week’s OGA Junior Tournament was held on Tuesday at Florence Golf Links and will be at Ocean Dunes Golf Course today. The tournament was open to the public.
For more information about junior golf at Florence Golf Links, visit florencegolflinks.com.