Opportunities to learn the game of golf from one of the top instructors in the area over the past four decades, and at a reasonable price at that, are mostly non-existent.

But kids who sign up for the Grant County Family YMCA youth golf camp will have just that opportunity starting on Wednesday, July 22.

Jim Gallagher, Sr. estimated he started working with young golfers of various skill levels back in 1985, and quite honestly, it’s hard to quantify the number of golf careers he’s positively impacted.

Even before he was giving private lessons to kids, he helped train his own three children – Jim Jr., Jeff and Jackie – who all played major college golf and eventually spent years on the major golf tours in the United States.

However, the purpose of the Y’s clinic isn’t to start training professionals or even college-level golfers, though with a lot of dedication and hard work, anything is possible.

Moreover, the Y’s annual Golf Camp is used to provide an introduction to a game which people can play for a lifetime. It’s also to help the development of golf skills for young people and provide them with a chance to succeed at a game that is very tough to learn.

Most of all, the YMCA’s Golf Camp hopes to provide fun for its participants. And golf is fun.

Gallagher shared some of his golf wisdom about how he likes to teach young, sometimes beginning golfers.

Part of that wisdom will be imparted to campers for the three days at Arbor Trace.

“You try to encourage them to have patience, No. 1.,” said Gallagher, as he sat inside the screened-in patio outside of Meshingomesia’s clubhouse Friday afternoon. “We talk a lot to them about safety so they know there’s no one out in the hitting area where someone can get injured.

“Being a little bit patient, don’t try to hit the furthest shot in your life every time. Try to just make a nice swing at it,” he continued. “We try to get them to form a swing that looks something like a hula hoop – its a round swing, not a vertical choppy swing. Then if you hit a good one you get rewarded for it, but if the next one’s bad, have patience then maybe the next one coming up is a good one again.”

For some, especially beginners and novice players, success simply means getting the ball airborne. For others, success comes in various fashions.

Step one in finding success in golf is going to the course and learning some proper techniques, both physical and mental. That’s an obvious goal of the camp, providing building blocks in the form of fundamentals.

“I think what they do is they get tied up right away in scoring, how far they’re going to hit it and what they’re going to score on the hole,” Gallagher said. “Let’s get it up in the air. We try to get them to hit it up in the air and try to get them to where they’re swinging on balance, not jumping out of your shoes to hit.”

The YMCA’s Golf Camp is open to kids of all ages, including high school players. Cost is $10 for Y members and $15 for non members. Sessions will run from 9:30 through 11 a.m. each of the three days

“The camp is ideal for girls that are playing high school golf,” Gallagher said. “Their season starts right after we have the Golf Camp. It would be ideal for the week before (the season) to get a little tune up.”

Gallagher won’t be alone in providing instruction. He’ll be joined by Meshingomesia pro Rob Riddle, Doug Piper from Arbor Trace, along with former Marion High School golf coaches Jack Raabe and Mark Hyman.

“We just want to try to encourage them to start young so they can continue to play with their parents or with their buddies,” Gallagher said. “A lot of other sports you can’t do that. Their dad’s too old to run down the field and play football with them.

“We try to make it as fun as we can for them.”

Registration closes on July 22. To sign up, visit www.gcymca.org or visit the Grant County YMCA Facebook page to find the registration link.

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