2010-05-13 / News

Jamestown golf program turns out talented young athletes

By Holly Benton

Jamestown youth are being taught at an early age about etiquette, integrity and discipline— and they’re learning it on the Jamestown Golf Course.

The Youth Golf Program, an afterschool program run by the Jamestown Education Foundation, kicked off its fourth year at the Jamestown Golf Course last week.

Treasurer and board member Anne Livingston has been there since the start of the golf program.

“We started this program in partnership with the golf course so the kids could play golf,” Livingston said. “We felt that since we have a beautiful golf course and we have children, that it was good to have a little bit of a formal program after school.”

The seasonal program, which takes place for five weeks, happens every Tuesday afternoon from approximately 3 to 5 p.m. Jamestown Golf Course starter and ranger, Chuck Connors, guides the afterschool program by leading youth – anywhere from 8 to 12 years of age – around the golf course.

“We just try to teach them the etiquette and the finesse of the game,” Connors said. “They seem to like it.”

Connors said that golf etiquette, which encompasses everything from golf bag placement to marking your ball and fixing ball marks on the green, makes the game easier for everybody else.

“I teach them basic etiquette that a lot of the older people still don’t do,” he said. “They see a ball mark after they’ve been with me for a year or so and they automatically fix it. There are some older people that just ignore it and leave it there.”

Working with the program since the beginning, as well as a program that takes place for 10 weeks during the summer, Connors remains passionate about what youth gain from playing golf.

“If they start at such a young age, they have a good chance of scholarships for high school and college,” Connors said. “And if they really like it, they can aspire to do anything they want.”

“Anything they want” comes sooner rather than later for many Jamestown youth, when given the opportunity to try out for the North Kingstown High School golf team. The six-member N.K.H.S. varsity golf team, lead by coach Dom Marcone, currently consists of five island players.

“We’ve always had Jamestown kids on our team, always. And we’ve always had one or two kids starting from Jamestown,” Marcone said. “They must be doing a good job with their junior program there. By the time they come here, they’re decent golfers, like our two freshmen, Adam Southworth and Owen Heath. I mean, those two kids can play.”

In addition to Southworth and Heath, island team members include junior Ryan Southworth and seniors Michael McDermott and John Rafanelli.

With an impressive coaching record on his resume – taking the last six division titles, winning 57 league matches until the last year without a loss and going three-and-a-half years undefeated – Marcone, who’s also the Pilgrim High School athletic director, is a true advocate of the game.

“Number one, it’s the last sport with integrity,” he said. “In golf, when there’s a penalty, the kids call it on themselves. It teaches a lot of discipline and integrity. Another thing is managing temper. The worst thing you can do in golf is have a temper. It not only affects you on that hole, it will affect you on the next couple of holes.”

Like Connors, Marcone believes that golf has the potential to be an important life skill, and one you can never be too young to learn.

“We have a lot of kids who would like to go on to play in college or get involved in golf itself, whether it’s being a pro or in the golf business,” Marcone said. “If these guys graduate and go into some type of finance or management job, they’re going to be on the golf course.”

“You can’t start too little,” he added.

Freshman team member and islander Owen Heath started playing at age eight on the Jamestown Golf Course.

“I played with my dad a lot, he’s a big golfer,” he said.

Heath added that he’d like to go on to play in college and feels he has personally gained a lot from playing golf.

“I’ve met a lot of new people,” Heath said. “It helps your mind a lot…it’s tough mentally.”

With another strong year underway, the N.K.H.S. golf team is lasting proof of the success that Jamestown is having in producing talented athletes. Connors, who has worked with past and present members of the school’s team, including brothers Ryan and Adam Southworth, is excited about the upcoming spring and summer.

“I love every minute of working with the kids, they can come anytime they want,” Connors said of the afterschool program.

The program ensures that kids are properly attended to until a parent or guardian picks them up. Parents are also allowed to pay per session. To learn more or participate in the afterschool program this season, Jamestown students or parents can either go through their school, or sign up at the clubhouse.

Jamestown residents, as well as residents of nearby towns, can visit the clubhouse to sign up for the summer program, which takes place on Thursday mornings for 10 weeks. The course is located at 245 Conanicus Ave. and can be reached at 423-9930.

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