The Lake Junaluska Golf Course has formed its first PGA Junior League and is off to an impressive first season under the coaching of Charlie Carswell, a PGA-classified golf professional and the resident professional at Lake Junaluska Golf Course.
“It’s just for the kids to have fun. It’s more of team golf and not so much focused on the individual like it is in high school. The PGA Junior League is set up to get kids interested and the parents also get to help out and be involved,” said Carswell.
The team is currently 3-0 and has two matches left, both to be held at Asheville-area courses and Lake Junaluska. All skill levels, including beginners, are participating this season, which began on March 1 and runs until July 31. Consisting of 13 kids, ages 14 and under, practices are held every Wednesday and matches on Thursday.
As an experienced golfer who is enthusiastic about growing the game and getting junior players to grasp the fundamentals, Carswell’s expertise is guiding his team as they learn the sport of golf.
The team competes in a two-person scramble format where the kids work together and utilize skills such as communication by playing the “best ball” of each of their two shots during the match.
Carswell claims the “main goal” of the program is to help the kids learn putting, chipping, driving and teamwork.
Waynesville native Gayla Jones thought the league was an opportunity to get her son Coleman, 13, to try a sport with “less contact”.
“This was a way to get him involved in a group, get a coach to help him learn the fundamentals, and teach him more about the game. Golf is a sport where he’s not having to tackle somebody to get the ball, or steal it and he likes that,” said Jones.
Coleman enjoys the positive atmosphere of the Junaluska Junior League and explained why that encouragement allowed for him to get better.
“Everybody is nice and there is no competitiveness with it. Everybody is like a team and working together. We all cheer for everybody,” said Coleman.
Parents are able to help their kids learn and are often side by side with them at practice.
“I play a little bit and we watch golf. We saw the PGA Junior League and I looked it up and sure enough we saw it in the newspaper. My son hasn’t touched a pair of clubs until three months ago and he’s doing great,” said Jason Burns of Waynesville about his son Cole, age 6.
Cole added, “My favorite part is about having fun.”
For some parents on the team, they want their kids to get to experience golf while they are young.
“I wish I would have had this opportunity as a child. This is not something that is going to get you hurt, you’re learning respect, it’s the only game where you can call a penalty on yourself,” said Chip Lance of Candler. Him and his daughter Reagan, age 8, are certainly enjoying the bonding experience and learning more about golf together with the PGA Junior League.
“I like hitting and spending time with daddy,” said Reagan as her and her father practiced putting at last Wednesday’s training.