MOULTRIE – Getting outside and away from the video screen, despite the heat of the morning.

Understanding what’s expected of you even before digging your tee into the ground.

Perhaps even more important, learning the team concept, especially in a sport that is often seen as an individual effort rather than a group project.

Sunset Country Club assistant pro Aaron Elrod led the annual youth golf clinic over the past three weeks – two days each week – and things wrapped up Thursday with fun time.

That was before the estimated 45 to 50 youngsters (in groups 8 & under and 9 & older) received instruction on golf fundamentals and etiquette with the help of Colquitt County High School coaches such as Lee Wright and Shannon Hall.

Why were things so fun on the last day? Because Elrod wanted the youth feeling sad that it was all over, not glad that it was … all over.

“We had up to 50 kids anywhere from 4 to age 13,” said Elrod. He said the objective was the make the game fun and drum up interest in golf.

“Make them excited to come out to the golf course and play. We all know out in the summertime with the heat and gnats, it’s easy to stay inside and play video games. But it’s getting kids outside, getting them involved, have some fun and learn about golf. Learn manners. Learn teamwork.”

Elrod knows the value of teamwork in golf for those who aren’t fortunate enough to win big money touring professionally. He is a former state high school champion with Colquitt County High, and he is a multi-time winner of the four-man Pot ‘O’ Gold tournament held every March at Sunset.

But whether it is on the Moultrie home course or Augusta National, he said there are certain rules to which every player must adhere.

The first week of the youth clinic was about the basic fundamentals of golf stressing posture, gripping the club and stance. In the second week, Elrod said they took the youth all around the Sunset 18-hole course with lessons on “teeing up.”

“Where do you start a hole from? Who goes first?” Elrod said where the points of emphasis. “A little bit of the rules. That way when they go out on a golf course, they have an idea of what to do.”

Week 3 was fun, fun, fun, and eating some watermelon.

“It was about games, teamwork, building relationships, friendships,” said Elrod. “And overall having a good time. That way, when they get done with camp, they are ‘I wish we had another day … I wish we could come back … When’s the next camp?’ That’s the goal when we leave here. We don’t want them ‘Thank God it’s over.’ We want them to keep coming.

“Everybody in this camp is from Moultrie. I had the high school and middle school coaches involved. The goal is to have these young men and young women become Packers and Lady Packers on the high school and middle school teams.

“Hopefully some will want to play college golf. We are trying to get them excited about playing … put all the enthusiasm we can into them about golf.”

And Elrod said the better your score, the better the team you are on will do. He said it’s easy to think one’s score won’t count and that one can quit on a hole, but every shot does matter.

“You don’t want to let your team down,” said Elrod. “Give your best every shot. If you give it your best, there’s nothing to be mad about. Your team will thank you for it.”

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