Talented students can take their game to its highest level starting with the Vernon School District’s Golf Academy.
“We have a number of academies combining sports and academics, hockey, soccer and snow sports and we thought it would be good to have a golf academy,” said district educational consultant Tom Williamson.
Prospective students, parents, teachers and local golf clubs agreed.
“I want to improve my technique and play better and maybe get a golf scholarship to university,” said Kendra Jones-Munk, 14, a Seaton secondary school student, who has been playing golf since she was three, starting with her grandmother.
Another of the four students already signed up for the academy, which starts in 2017, is Anthony Prince, a 17-year-old Fulton student who has been playing golf with his grandfather since age 11.
“I think this will be a great way to further my education and play golf,” said Prince, who also plays football and rugby.
The Vernon Golf & Country Club will be the home base for the program with other training at Fitness West, and local golf professionals are looking forward to working with these motivated students.
“We already have some students on university golf scholarships — Chris Baryla, MacKenzie Barrie, Matt Kreutz and Connor Kozak. Now there are sure to be more,” said Justin Baillargeon, Vernon Golf & Country Club associate pro, who started playing golf when he was four, got his pro card in 2007 and brings a wealth of ways to mentor students.
“We can do things like video analysis, develop exercise programs, provide extensive practice facilities and so much more.”
Golf Academy will start in February 2017 with students spending a half day in class and a half day in golf-related activities. The academy will count as physical education and an elective so students will graduate on schedule with full credits.
“Part of the program will have the students teaching golf basics to elementary school students,” said Williamson. “These academy students are getting a step up in a sport they are already good at and that they can take in a number of ways in years to come. They will make new friends, learn sportsmanship and time management and learn a sport they can enjoy their whole lives.
“They will play in local and provincial tours and maybe some other places that are not finalized yet. The academy is part of the Ministry of Education moving to more personalized education.”
The young golfers are eager to get started.
“I know I’m going to like it,” said Prince.
His grandfather, George Prince, added, “It’s good to see him get the opportunity to do this. He’s always taken an interest in golf and now he beats me regularly. Golf keeps a person active and there’s great camaraderie.”
Jones-Munk still plays golf with her grandmother, Sharon Alexander, who bought her her first clubs, and goes to lessons with her.
“My grandma has been really instrumental in developing my interest in golf,” said Jones-Munk, who also keeps fit with dance. She was in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet summer program last year.
Melanie Munk, Jones-Munk’s mother, said, “She has always enjoyed golf. The more we can do to encourage young people to expand their skills, the better. We will support her as much as we can for as long as she enjoys it.”
The Golf Academy still has room for four more students.
“There’s so much we do with it, so many possibilities — I’m a dreamer,” said Williamson, an avid golfer himself.
For more information about the Golf Academy, contact Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 250-308-6649.