Skip to main content

Native American junior golfers go to camp

TOPEKA, Kan. - Despite oppressive heat, they showed up in droves for the first golf camp sponsored by the Native American Junior Golf Association.

Nearly 90 children and their parents stood in line to sign up for the four-week camp that stresses determination, dedication, discipline and getting the job done.

"So far we have approximately 85 kids," the association's executive director Jimmy Cisneros said. "And we probably have another 20 kids who had prior engagements that couldn't make it tonight."

The great response was much greater than the sponsors had dared hope for.

"I think the number of kids here shows the interest in the game of golf, and that the NAJGA is reaching out to a wide variety of communities and it is all coming together," he added.

Cisneros looked on as groups of children went through a long line, reminiscent of new soldiers, picking up their gear. There were shoes to try on, shirts and visors and last but not least, a bag of golf clubs waiting for the excited throng of youngsters. The Taylor Made company gave discounts on equipment for the kids.

"We'll have an orientation today and go over the schedule," Cisneros explained. "It's going to be a four-week camp, not every day, but about four days a week for the next four weeks." He said the experience would more than likely culminate in a golf tournament for the young golfers at the end of the camp.

The juniors will be asked to learn not only how to drive the ball and putt and swing, but learn the etiquette of golf. This was important to many of the parents and grandparents who patiently waited their turn for shoes and equipment.

Corretta Jefferson drove over from Lawrence to sign up her 7-year-old grandson Israel.

"My husband and I and our sons golf," Jefferson said. "I thought it would be a really excellent opportunity, for him, not just the camp. ... I thought the program they put together was addressing all areas of character in a child and that was what I liked when I looked at their schedule. It wasn't just learning how to golf, but it was all aspects it was trying to address."

After picking up shoes, shirts and visors and signing in, the young golfers stepped outside onto a patio where dozens upon dozens of golf bags - with their names on them - awaited their new owners.

Then it was off to the driving range for lessons from golf professional Ryan Ross on the do's and don'ts of the perfect swing. Ross serves on the association board of directors.

Some parents said they had a long drive to get to the Shawnee Lake Golf Course, but all were happy to have made it.

While orders were still being filled for equipment in the clubhouse, Ross was teaching other juniors the fundamentals of golf and achieving a strong swing on the driving range. Parents watch with pride, looking for that special something in their child, that might make him or her the next Tiger Woods.

The NAJGA is the first to be formed in the United States and received its initial backing from the Prairie Band Potawatomi.

Other tribes or groups who are interested in chartering under the national chapter may contact J.B. Cisneros at (785) 364-5480.