By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
The numbers may be down — but the experience is just as positive.
For more than 20 years, Echo Hills has had a summer Junior Camp for young golfers of the future — and Echo Hills Golf Professional Chip Fox has continued what his predecessor Ken Green started.
This summer they meet on Wednesday’s for six weeks, capped by a tournament the final week.
“I helped Ken with it for a number of years before I came to Echo,” Fox said.
And the importance of the program are obvious and benefit all golfers.
The youngsters that go through the program will not only learn golf skills — but things that will benefit all golfers for a lifetime.
“We teach them proper golf etiquette,” Fox said. “And how to get around a golf course.”
That includes things like understanding to let faster players play through, not walk in the line of someone else’s putt and fixing ball marks on the green — just to name a few.
All those things benefit all golfers on the course.
Examples of those who have come through the program aren’t hard to find.
Along with Mike Lavey and Marty Jackson, many come back to help with the camp.
This year, that includes Andy Johnson, Joe Slusher, Kyle Ingle and Kenton Kiser.
“We have had a number of local coaches who have helped out in different years,” Fox said.
Fox’s only disappointment is with the numbers being down.
“I don’t think it is just the economy,” Fox said. “I think kids have so many different things going on, there isn’t time. I think a lot of the parents push their kids toward the team sports. “
And Fox knows while he may not see them on the course next year — he will at some point and they will benefit from the program.
“At some point (as adults), they will probably end up playing,” Fox said. “That is something parents need to keep in mind. They aren’t going to be playing soccer or basketball when they are 80 — but, they can still play golf. It is a game for a lifetime.”
Fox hopes he has one of the worst golf springs behind him.
“I have being doing it for 30 years and this is the worst spring I have ever seen for weather — really it started last fall,” Fox said. “I think we had something like 13.5 inches of rain in the last three weeks.”
While two holes had to be closed on the front nine for a short time — and carts were limited at times — the course came through it in good condition.
“The course is in great condition,” Fox said. “The people who play every day — they still played. It is the ones who played once a week that we lost. You can’t do anything about it. You can’t control Mother Nature. Hopefully, we will have a good fall.”
And Fox will continue to make sure it is a positive experience for all at Echo Hills.