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Summer Golf Camps for Kids


On a recent trip to Morocco, I was introduced to a grow-the-game initiative that the program’s mentors referred to as “Birdies.” Formally known as Birdies de Mogador, it’s made up of 70 kids, carefully screened as potential leadership in the country’s budding golf industry. For eight hours a week, these kids are being taught to not only play the game, but also manage the game, which includes language lessons and classes on the business of golf.

To #GrowTheGame in the United States has become a popular hashtag. And with the microscope literally and figuratively revealing the dangers of tackle football, combined with successful programs such as First Tee, Youth on Course, Drive, Chip and Putt and other evolving trends, such as TopGolf and short courses, the game’s forecast seems to be improving for decades and future generations.

And as the cloud cover lifts, it brings us to summer golf camps for kids. Where do they fit in? What are your options? And what should you, as a parent or guardian, look for?

Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy
Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy

“It starts with understanding your child,” says Kate Tempesta, founder and co-owner of Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy in New York. “I hear people say, ‘Make it fun.’ But what’s ‘fun’ is different for each age. What might be fun for an 8-year-old might not be fun for a 5-year-old.”

Tempesta started a junior camp at Montauk Downs on the eastern tip of Long Island five years ago, which ran for one week. Last year it was up to nine weeks. And this summer it will be 11 weeks. Between camps in Montauk and various locations throughout New York, Tempesta estimates her and her staff will see 1,000 kids this summer.

“I’m thrilled with the evolution of the program. Our mission statement is to empower the children and let them discover the game at their own pace.”

Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy
Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy

Urban Golf Academy works with kids, ages 4 and up. Weekly summer camps run from 9—2pm, which includes golf, and/or tennis and swimming and prices range from $145 to $180 per kid, per day, depending on when you sign up.

“We aim for joy first, then we might get technical. Which isn’t to say we can’t get to the competitive side of the golf, it’s just not our point of entry.”

Tempesta also offers “Evening Eagles,” which is two days a week, 5—8pm, and it’s $300 per child.

Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy
Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy

“In the end, do we want better golfers or better human beings? The answer is human beings, and golf is a great vehicle to get that done. That’s just me and that’s the way I teach.”

For more on Urban Golf Academy: www.ktuga.com




After speaking to Tempesta, I also solicited feedback on junior golf camps from my Twitter followers. Some notable names and brands chimed in:

David Leadbetter ‏‪@DavidLeadbetter
I heard @LGAOrlando has great junior camps.

Students ages 12-18 will be immersed in a week-long program based on Leadbetter’s famed “Holistic Approach” to golf instruction, utilizing 30+ years experience coaching juniors around the world. Leadbetter’s Holistic Approach to the golf swing has helped countless tour professionals and aspiring junior golfers reach the pinnacle of the sport, including 21 Major winners and 7 World No. 1s.” ($2,950 per student.) For more: http://davidleadbetter.com/summercamps/


Arron Oberholser ‏‪@ArronOberholser
Stanford’s camp is incredible. Been going on for years. I coached at it when I was in college.

Stanford offers half day and full day golf camps, with a focus on “introducing the game to juniors between the ages of 5 and 12 with either no experience or a couple years of instruction.”

They also offer “Traditional Camp” which is designed to cater to junior golfers (ages 8—18) from beginner to advanced. Instructors include the Stanford coaching staff and other DI/DII coaches and players. ($650—$1,800) For more, go to: stanfordgolf.activesb.net/2016_Summer_Camps.htm


@Pinehurst Resort We humbly nominate the Pinehurst Golf Academy Junior & Parent/Child Schools.

‪@thejcruz89 When he was 13, my son loved every second of the Pinehurst Golf Camp. Best $1,600 for a week you can spend.

Pinehurst junior golf school runs through July, and includes golfers ages 11 to 17. It’s six days and nights and prices range from $1,769 to $1,869. For more: www.pinehurst.com/golf/pinehurst-golf-academy/our-schools/junior-school/


Michael Hankinson ‏‪@MPHankinson
Hi Matt! The @NTPGAJuniorTour has some of the best camps in Texas and include a starter set of clubs! For my son- it started.

For more: www.ntpgajuniorgolf.com


Chad Anderson ‏‪@KnoxAreaGolf
@Tennesseepga Jr Golf Academy – great value! Overnight camp for a week, dorm rooms, catering, par 3 course, instruction.

For more: golfhousetennessee.uschedule.com/TPGAJuniorAcademy/AbouttheAcademy.aspx


Francis O’Hara ‏‪@FOSDGLF
Can’t go wrong with @TheFirstTee

For more: www.thefirsttee.org/club/scripts/section/section.asp?NS=FL


Rollins Golf ‏‪@RollinsGolf
@PineNeedlesGolf Has a great camp. @PeggyKirkBell is in attendance!

For more: www.pineneedles-midpines.com/youth-golfari/


Inge Beeker ‏‪@ingewood
Check out @OldWaverlyGC for world class instruction from @VTROLIO and @timyelverton.  They have junior cottage setup for camp.

For more: www.hailstate.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=205389018


Troon @Troon
We like the Summer Jr Camps at ‪@TroonNorthGC. ‪#GrowTheGame

For more: www.troonnorthgolf.com/tnjrcamp.html


Tunica, Mississippi

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It’s safe to say that twenty years ago not one in a thousand people had ever heard of Tunica, Mississippi. Unless you were a riverboat captain or a native of nearby Memphis, Tennessee, there was no reason you would have.

Before legalized gaming was introduced in the early‘90s, Tunica County was the single poorest county in the United States. The town itself made Mayberry look like Monte Carlo, so slow and sleepy was the pace. The featureless landscape, bordered by the broad expanse of the Mississippi River to the west, and the city of Memphis some twenty miles to the north, was little more than a sea of cotton fields, and flatter than a Scrabble board. But times have changed.

Now Tunica welcomes more than ten million visitors a year. It’s the largest casino resort between Atlantic City and Las Vegas, and while it’s lacking the history of the former and the glitz of the latter, it definitely has some allure of its own. Besides a mild climate, a down-home southern charm and close proximity to the fun and funky city of Memphis, the casinos that have sprung from the landscape insure a non-stop slate of gaming, entertainment and dining options. Where liberally-spending vacationers go, golf is sure to follow.

Tunica National
Image via Tunica Travel

Tunica National is the most estimable of the area’s courses. Designed by ten-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, who is one of very few players-turned-course-designers that also happens to be an accredited member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. His wind-whipped Mississippi masterpiece is a sturdy test of the game. The rolling terrain is rife with strategically-placed water hazards and bunkers, which are balanced with generous landing areas. Big, fast, undulating greens await golfers after they negotiate the trouble tee-to-green.  Fortunately, a 360 degree circular range allows all players the comprehensive warm-up necessary to negotiate one of northern Mississippi’s staunchest golf challenges.

Image via http://www.tunicatravel.com/
Image via Tunica Travel

River Bend Links was born of an unusual alliance of three casinos, normally fierce competitors, who saw the need for alternative entertainment for their guests and the public. Sam’s Town, Hollywood and Harrah’s Casino joined forces to build this user-friendly facility, slightly less ferocious in its playing demands than its area siblings. Architect Clyde Johnston describes his creation as “a field of dunes.” It’s as good a description as any, because the 18 holes are comfortably nestled in a bend of the Mississippi River. The 6,900 yard track offers a range of sand and grass bunkers, mounds, and treeless, wind-swept landscapes to facilitate a traditional feel. Located in the adjacent town of Robinsonville, and further removed from the burgeoning population center of Tunica itself, wildlife still inhabits the area. Golfers may well encounter deer, fox, or wild turkey as they seek out their birdies.

Hollywood Café
Image via Tunica Travel

This area of the country isn’t famous for ‘spa cuisine.’ So any visitor hankering for fried pickles, catfish, hush puppies, country fried steak, peach cobbler, sweet tea and the like should check out the Hollywood Café, which is colorful, eclectic and will afford plenty of change from a $20 bill. It’s also been immortalized in the enduringly haunting Marc Cohn ballad ‘Walking in Memphis.’ (The exact lyric: “Now Muriel plays piano every Friday at the Hollywood.”)

Blue & White Restaurant
Image via Tunica Travel

The same country gestalt is found at the Blue & White Restaurant, where breakfast is served anytime. Popular items for a midday meal also include fried green tomatoes, fried green beans, chicken and dumplings, frog’s legs and pork chops. (Vegetarians can survive in these parts, but it’s slim pickings.)

Any worthwhile casino destination has a dozen shows, a hundred restaurants and a thousand hotel rooms, minimum. But Tunica is distinguished in a way that Vegas, the Bahamas and Atlantic City are not. The reason comes down to three words: The Mighty Mississippi. Visitors would do well to tear themselves away from both the buffet and the baccarat tables and head down to Tunica Riverpark & Museum.

Tunica Queen
Image via Tunica Travel

In fact, by complementing the RiverPark tour with a quick cruise on the “Big Muddy” itself on the Tunica Queen, a visitor can obtain a working education as to why the Mississippi River has been such a vital conduit in our nation’s history. The interactive nature of the museum displays, the dynamic, state-of-the-art video monitors, and the wall-sized illustrations all combine to provide a “you are there” atmosphere that will appeal to both kids and adults. Besides, once you board the Queen, enjoying a spicy Bloody Mary or ice-cold beer, listening to the live banjo music as you cruise the river, the fun really begins.