Little tykes getting head start with plenty of help

April 23, 2006|By TIM KOELBLE

For those of us who predate Arnold Palmer's first PGA Tour victory in 1955, we can remember that a golf club would never have been an item of interest at a pre-K age.

If you were born into a sports-minded family, it was a pretty good chance that the first thing you became familiar with was a baseball glove and bat, probably by the time you were about 3 years old. I've still got the little glove my dad had on my hand - and I wasn't even 1 year old.

Times have changed over the years with the popularity of other sports, and that includes golf. I can remember gaining an interest in the sport by the time I was 10, and that was young back in those days. You either had to swing an adult club or have the luxury of someone cutting down shafts measured to your swing.


Not anymore. Golf companies have a wide variety of kids' golf clubs, bags and accessories to meet the demand for boy and girl kiddie corps.

Now, it's a common sight to see parents and grandparents not only taking their own swings, but also tutoring the little ones of the future.

After a practice session earlier this week at Yingling's Golf Center, I saw several little tykes on the range mats and they were back at it later in the week. They included 6-year-old Brett Baile, 3-year-old Brady Baile and 4-year-old Kaleb Sisson.

Brett and Brady are the sons of Barclay and Deanna Baile of Hagerstown, but they're often accompanied by granddad Dave Smith, one who just picked up the game six years ago and is still hitting the ball strong at 73.

"Brett has been at (golf) for about three years and this is the first year for Brady," said Smith. "They like golf and they're pretty good at their age." Each has his own set of kids clubs.

While Brady was concentrating on his efforts (which I must say included some pretty good hand-eye coordination and ball-striking) and was a little shy to talk, Brett stopped long enough to say his favorite golfer was Tiger Woods.

"He's pretty good," said Brett, who likes to watch golf on television. When asked if he knew if driving or putting is more important, he hesitated for a moment and then said, "Putting is."

Brett also said he and his dad will play games outside the house with his dad pretending to be Vijay Singh. "I beat him and do a 'victory march.'"

"We'll take them out on the course (Yingling's par 3)," said Smith. "When I grew up, golf at their age wasn't even thought of."

The young Sisson, son of Sean and Johanna Sisson of Smithsburg, had an early present by the time he reached his first birthday.

"We got him one of those Fisher Price toy golf sets," said Johanna Sisson. "(Kaleb) gets upset when his dad goes to the big course because he can't go."

"I like to hit a ball very far," said Kaleb, as he turned and pointed to one of the yellow yardage markers on the range.

His mother said he just got his first set of kids clubs this past winter.

If I'm fortunate to be around for several more years, maybe we'll see the names locally of Baile, Sisson and others succeeding in junior golf programs and becoming members of their high school team.

That would be a hoot talking to them down the road, asking them, "Remember that day at Yingling's?"

Rain is Saturday winner

Saturday's Maryland State Golf Association Team Championship match play between Beaver Creek and Black Rock was postponed due to the weather.

The two clubs will tee off at noon today with three two-man matches at each venue to determine the third-round winner.

Tim Koelble's Divots column appears on Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311 or by e-mail at:

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