A familiar face has returned to the Walnut Creek/Club Run golf courses this summer and plans are in place to open a new door for youth golfers to be introduced to the game.
Jeff Seagrave, who once served as the teaching pro at Walnut Creek/Club Run, stepped away from the profession and the Upland courses about a decade ago for personal reasons. But his passion for teaching golf and working with people in general never went away.
Now Seagrave is back, sharing his love and knowledge of golf with players of all ages and skill levels at the Grant County courses.
“One of the main reasons I got out of the golf business initially was life-work balance,” Seagrave shared Tuesday afternoon while waiting to watch his son Sam compete in the Indiana Open Championship at Rock Hollow in Peru. “I didn’t have an opportunity to watch my children grow up.
“I knew at some point in time I was going to get back into golf. The timing was right so I got back reinstated by the PGA in the fall,” he continued. “I got with Randy and Sara (Ballinger, Walnut Creek’s owners) because I didn’t leave on bad terms, it was just an understanding. I really wanted to get back to teaching and they provided me with an opportunity to become the instructor at the golf courses and I’m very appreciative of that.”
Seagrave said he’s kept busy providing lessons through spring and early summer, but hopes to add some hours to his Friday evenings starting this week. He recently finalized plans to host a series of youth golf classes through the Indiana Golf Association and its First Tee Indiana program.
“The reason I wanted to do it is because it provides an opportunity, at a relatively inexpensive price, to get some kids involved that may not otherwise have the opportunity to play golf or even understand what it’s all about,” Seagrave explained. “The values you try to instill in them throughout the process, from respect to patience and everything involved, honestly, there’s a lot of positives involved.
“What they learn, not only from a golf perspective, but you hope to instill some values in them moving forward in life that they’re going to be able to retain,” he added. “It really is a great program.”
The First Tee Indiana program will run for five weeks at Walnut Creek/Club Run. Sessions will go from 5:30-6:45 p.m. on those Fridays. The lone exception being July 31, when there will be no clinic.
Cost is $10 per session and participants can sign up through a link found on the IGA’s website or at www.firstteeindiana.org. Questions can be addressed directly to Seagrave through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ll have programs like golf-baseball. Kids don’t even know the skills they’re learning actually apply to golf,” Seagrave said. “We want to make it fun for them, make it enjoyable. Depending on their level of expertise, we’ll have different groups doing a couple of different things.
“The whole objective is to expose them to the game of golf and the only way to keep them involved in the game is to make it fun and enjoyable for them,” he added. “We’ll have some different games and activities for them to make it enjoyable.”
The hope and goal of the program is to generate more interest in golf from young people. Seagrave also hopes that if kids become interested, more parents will also become involved because golf is a sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime, not just as a kid.
“I grew up in Kokomo at a time when there were so many good players and so many kids playing golf it really made everybody get better,” Seagrave said. “I just don’t see the number of kids coming out and they are the future of the game.
“Those 7- and 8-year olds aren’t driving themselves to the courses. Hopefully we can get them involved and their parents will take more of interest in the game,” he continued. “Maybe some of (parents) have been in the past, but for whatever reason life catches up and they have to get away from the game. Maybe we can bring some of those people back who have gotten away from golf or maybe introduce people who haven’t been involved before, get them interested in it.”