Jr Golf Going Strong in Ocean Pines

Junior golf continues to grow at Ocean Pines Golf Club, where record-breaking participation and support from local organizations this past year have meant that more young golfers are enjoying the sport than ever before.

The cornerstone of the junior golf program – summer golf camp – has continued to grow over the past five years. The camp’s blend of instruction, food and fun has paid off. This past summer, 131 golfers participated in four sessions of the four-day camps, the most ever. In fact, all four sessions sold out.

Ocean Pines Golf Club also offers junior clinics in the fall and spring. The clinics have also proven popular, necessitating additional sessions to accommodate the demand.

Ocean Pines PGA Director of Golf John Malinowski said he’s seen a change in the people participating in junior golf programs. “I’ve noticed that more parents are signing kids up for clinics and camps because they’re excited about seeing them involved in golf itself, not just because they’re looking for a summer activity,” he said.

The rise in junior participation at the course has created a need for more equipment, something that local golf groups have been eager to support.

“This past year, Ocean Pines Golf Club received nine sets of junior golf clubs for use with our programs. The Ocean Pines Ladies’ Golf Association, the Ocean Pines Golf Members’ Council and individual golf members donated sets as well as money to purchase additional sets,” Malinowski said. “Our golf members have seen the growing interest in junior golf at Ocean Pines and have truly been instrumental in helping our programs grow.”

Malinowski also received a $2,500 grant this year from the Professional Golfers’ Association Middle Atlantic Joint Player Development and Junior Golf committees to enable Ocean Pines to continue to grow the game of golf and introduce it to new players.

The grant was awarded specifically to purchase SNAG (“Starting New at Golf”) equipment, which features oversized clubs and balls and other teaching aids designed to simplify golf for those who haven’t played before as well as introduce a fun element for those already familiar with the game.

“The SNAG equipment has been a great addition to our camps and clinics. The kids have had a blast with it. We were even able to set up a short ‘course’ on the driving range,” Malinowski said.

The course’s junior golf offerings, however, go beyond clinics and camps. For the first time ever, Ocean Pines Golf Club has added two sets of “family” tees, which offer a shorter playing alternative for juniors and those just learning to play the sport.

According to Malinowski, regular tees can present too much of a challenge for developing players. “You wouldn’t, for example, put a little kid in the batter’s box against a major league pitcher. The reduced yardage of the family tees makes our championship course accessible to and fun for players of all abilities,” he said.

The new tees, identified with orange and green golf ball tee markers, range in distance from 65 yards to 250 yards per hole for the shorter set and 85 yards to 300 yards for the slightly longer set.

Ocean Pines Golf Club, which is open to the public, also offers junior golf memberships and private lessons to juniors at discounted rates. Additionally, junior golfers can play for free every day after 3 p.m. with a paying adult.

An 18-hole championship golf course and the only one on Maryland’s Eastern Shore designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Ocean Pines Golf Club is open to the public year-round and is available for outings and tournaments.

For more information about Ocean Pines junior golf, contact John Malinowski, PGA director of golf at Ocean Pines Golf Club, at 410-641-6057.

For more information about the Ocean Pines community, contact Denise Sawyer, director of marketing and public relations for the Ocean Pines Association, at (410) 641-7717 ext. 3006 or dsawyer@oceanpines.org.

Photo Caption: “Junior golfers and Ocean Pines Golf Club staff are all smiles at the end of their junior golf camp session this past summer.” Photo Credit: Ocean Pines Association

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