Learning from the pros

HARRIS – Before the fans get to see the women of the LPGA Symetra Tour compete in the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass this weekend, a handful of kids and parents got an up-close look and some lesson from some of the golfers during a junior clinic, on Tuesday.

Marissa Steen, Sara-Maude Juneau, and Rachel Rohanna of the Symetra Tour, along with Sheryl Fish, an LPGA staffer, gave the children on-hand a look at what it’s like to be a professional golfer. The ladies went through everything from how to grip the club, stance, and how to utilize practice time on the driving range, all the way to what type of music they like to listen to while they practice, and the types of drills they use.

“I love helping out with the junior clinics,” Steen, who is currently second on the money list on the Symetra Tour said. “It’s a volunteer thing that I like to take part in because this is the future of golf and especially women’s golf.

“If we can come out and make an impact and keep growing the game, I think that’s very important, so I love to help out with that.”

Steen has won twice so far this year on the tour, and has earned six top-10 finishes. She also recently competed at last weekend’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where she shot a 73 (+3) and 81 (+11) before missing the cut.

Steen also showcased one of the more interesting drills she does, when she showed the kids how to drive the ball off a tee while on your knees. She managed to hit it well over 225 yards and draw some ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the gallery.

Besides the physical aspect of the game and the mechanics of the golf swing, the girls discussed how important a consistent work ethic is, and not just in the sport of golf.

“Just practice hard, and it does take a lot of hard work to be successful at anything, not just at golf,” Steen said. “Repetition, repetition, and repetition in golf is very important and you have to be methodical because you need to do the same thing every time, so you can be as repeatable as possible on the golf course.

“It does take a lot of time, handwork and dedication, but at the same time, it’s fun. I’m sure every girl out here has created friendships that will last a lifetime with other girls on tour, so you know it’s a really good way to spend your time.”

In the end, Steen hopes that the kids walk away with a positive experience from the clinic, and is hopeful they will enjoy playing golf.

“We always try to be positive and encouraging and I know sometimes they can be shy around us, but we try to be really friendly so hopefully they have a good memory about golf that will spark them to keep playing,” she said.

Tickets for this weekend’s event are just $10 for all three days of the tournament, which starts on Friday. Youth 17 and under are free. Tickets are available in advance from area non-profits, or at the main gate at the event grounds.