OSWEGO — At this week’s Tamarack Golf Camp, 38 kids ages 5-18 have received instruction from the tee to the green and everything in between.
The camp is hosted by Tamarack Golf Club, located at 2021 county Route 1 in Oswego. This is the 18th year of the camp, which serves as an introduction to the game for many of the young players, and a refresher course on the fundamentals for the older ones.
“The youngsters are coming along. It’s probably the best young group we’ve ever had,” said John Lawton, owner of Tamarack Golf Club. “There are a lot of repeats, close to 50 percent. Every year we try to tweak it and make it a little bit better.”
Lawton and his daughter Casey, a former Oswego High School golf standout, provided instruction at the camp, and several volunteers and parents also helped.
A special guest instructor this week was Dan Rose, coach of the OHS varsity boys and girls golf teams.
“Coach Rose has been tremendous,” John Lawton said. “With his delivery and the way he puts information out there, the kids are attentive. It’s quick, it’s precise, and they respond.”
On Monday, camp participants spent some time at the Scriba Driving Range before transferring to the course at Tamarack.
“We started at square one with the grip, stance, and posture, and then we moved on to small swings. We have them hit a few chip shots and then have them hit with the drivers,” Rose said.
On Wednesday at the range, longest-drive and closest-to-the-pin contests took place.
Thursday’s instruction featured chipping and putting at Tamarack.
“It’s the easiest way to get better and save strokes,” Rose said. “I would encourage parents to start from the green on back. Start with putting and chipping and get them good at that.”
Contests were held for each discipline, and a couple of golfers managed to sink long putts.
Successful putts and chips that got near the flagstick brought smiles to the golfers’ faces.
“The enthusiasm and joy for playing the game is definitely something you don’t see a lot of from the adults to the extent that you see it in children,” Rose said. “It’s always good to be around kids and see their pure joy for the game.”
In addition to instruction on the basics of the game, the camp participants learned how to act on the course.
“Beyond the playing of the game, there’s the etiquette and driving the cart and behavior on the greens, all that stuff that you have to teach,” Rose said.
Golfers also learned how to fix damage to the course left by divots or ball marks.
Rose said the older campers like when they get to drive the carts.
“There’s a lot of safety protocol that we do before they get on, and obviously there’s a parent riding with them,” Rose said.
Rose said he was impressed with the course and with the job Lawton has done with it and with the camp.
“The course is in great shape,” Rose said. “As far as the greens go, these are right up there as far as conditioning, speed, and difficulty.
“John does a fantastic job getting the kids here. He makes sure that they’re having fun and coming back here every year.”
For Lawton, one of the goals of the camp is for the young golfers to go on and play for the high school team. Several golfers who got their start at the youth camp went on to play for the Buccaneers.
Two members of this spring’s OHS varsity girls golf team — Danielle DelConte and Nicole DelConte — helped out at the camp this year.
“ I definitely think that this camp helped me become a better golfer,” said Danielle DelConte, who earned all-league first-team honors this year as a junior for the Bucs. “It helped working on skills like putting and chipping.”
What was it like working with the young golfers at the camp this week?
“It’s neat using the skills that you’ve learned to help younger kids and help their interest grow in the sport,” she said.
Rose said several golfers that have attended the Tamarack Golf Camp have gone on to play for the Bucs.
“You can tell that they’ve had training, that they’ve been to this camp, because they know the rules. Their swings and fundamentals are really solid,” Rose said. “It’s really beneficial to me and to Oswego athletics.”
The camp will wrap up today with a captain-and-crew tournament along with a banquet and prizes.
Lawton said the youth camp is one of the club’s highlights each year.
“It’s our Super Bowl,” he said.