Young golfers practice on the driving range last week at Oakwood Golf Club. Under the direction of five men, the club has offered free instruction for all ages and levels since April.

Brad Rees and Bud Evans were talking recently about drawing people to Oakwood Golf Club. Rees has a suggestion for the owner.

“Bud was trying to get the people back who had quit for various reasons,” Rees recalled. “We were sitting around this winter and I said, ‘You know, what if we just taught a bunch of new people to play?’”

Rees made a commitment during the conversation to devote three days a week to offer free lessons. Evans agreed, and the idea was born.

Since April, the golf club has offered instruction at no cost to golfers of all ages and levels. Rees and Evans recruited Brent Kell, Dave Barnes and Steve Pierce to assist them with the instruction.

Men meet for two hours on Monday nights, followed by the women on Tuesday nights. Lessons for juniors are Wednesday mornings. All three groups will continue through mid-August.

The level of expertise ranges from –– as Rees described it –– beginners to those in a slump and looking for a quick fix. There is also everything in between. Golfers have come from Mountain Grove, Salem, Willow Springs and other area communities.

“We’ve had people out there who until they had arrived had never picked up a golf club in their life,” Rees said. “Then we’ve had people who have played 25 years and just want to get better.”

While some come for a few lessons to fix a minor problem, many have been part of the program since the spring. That especially applies to the beginners.

Rees said the lessons began with putting and a focus on hand-eye coordination. Golfers advanced to chipping before spending two weeks on half swings as they became accustomed to making contact with the ball. It was six or seven weeks into the program before golfers took full swings –– and that was only with the shortest clubs in their bags. In July, participants were allowed to use their clubs and woods.

“It’s neat to watch them swing and struggle –– hit the ground or hit it six feet –– and then to hear them after they hit one solid and it feels good,” Rees said. “Some of the ladies will squeal a little like, ‘Oh yeah, that feels great,’ and they’ll look at us with a big smile on their face. That’s what it’s all about.”

Rees encouraged anyone interested in learning the game to join the final few weeks of the classes. He said they could be offered next year as well.

Rees said the free instruction has had a positive effect for the course –– just as he and Evans hoped.

“We see more people out there playing, especially with these kids and them bringing their parents along,” he said.

It’s neat to watch them swing and struggle –– hit the ground or hit it six feet –– and then to hear them after they hit one solid and it feels good. Some of the ladies will squeal a little like, ‘Oh yeah, that feels great,’ and they’ll look at us with a big smile on their face. That’s what it’s all about.”

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply