Giving gift of golf

Physical education students at Minot’s Central Campus will be “swinging into spring” in 2014.

The Minot Junior Golf Association donated 82 sets of new golf clubs to Central Campus on Friday. The gift included indoor-safe golf balls and nets for days when adverse weather curtails outdoor play.

“This is a wonderful deal that we’ve been working on, to get these children started playing golf, because it is a wonderful opportunity for them,” said Betty Lewis, Minot Junior Golf board member. “These are full-sized clubs for boys and girls.”

Weylin Wahlstrom, 9th grade physical education instructor at Central Campus, and Chuck Kranz, assistant principal, were instrumental in approaching Junior Golf regarding adding golf to the school’s physical education curriculum. The idea was well received.

“It fits our mission perfectly,” said Steve Kottsick, Souris Valley Golf Course professional. “For three years there hasn’t been much golf in Minot. When they came to us it was a chance to get golf clubs in more kids hands. It’ll create more golfers and get more people into the game. It’s a win-win deal.”

“This is better than anything we probably could have put together,” added Kranz. “With the help of Junior Golf this has become a reality. It’s a great opportunity for the kids.”

Golf has not been part of the physical education program at Central Campus. The school didn’t have the equipment. Friday’s donation changed that. Golf is scheduled to be added to physical education classes next spring.

“I hope we can wear those clubs out,” said Keith Altendorf, Central Campus principal. “It’s a great opportunity for our students to participate in what can become a life-long sport and have a good time doing it.”

The donated sets of golf clubs were complete. Each set contained a graphite shaft driver and fairway wood, No. 4 and No. 5 hybrids, pitching wedges through six irons, putter, bag, stands and head covers. Additionally, Junior Golf has pledged to assist with instruction if requested to do so by Central Campus PE instructors.

“We asked Junior Golf to help us out with some funding but I didn’t think it would be this much,” said Wahlstrom. “It is a privilege to add another sport that we can teach. Here’s an opportunity for every kid to try an activity that you can participate in for a lifetime. We’re so fortunate that we have organizations like Junior Golf to give students this opportunity.”

Golf isn’t just swinging a club and hitting a ball, it is also an outdoor activity than involves exercise. Golfers can walk several thousand steps over variable terrain during each outing. The health benefits of walking are well documented, another plus for a physical education program for today’s youth.

According to Kottsick, Junior Golf will soon be contributing in another way to other golf programs within the city. The Junior Golf board of directors has agreed to fund new golf bags for teams at Minot State University, Minot High School, Our Redeemer’s and Bishop Ryan. Those bags will be purchased and distributed prior to the 2014 spring golfing season.

Central Campus physical education students are sometimes bussed to locations off the school grounds for classes, such as to Maysa Arena for ice skating and area diamonds for softball. When PE golf classes become a reality next spring, the likely will be held at Jack Hoeven Wee Links or Souris Valley Golf Course.