MANNING - Clarendon County's Youth Golf Program is a diamond in the "rough."
In just a few years, golf instructor Donald Hardy has seen tremendous strides in the county's youth golf program that is sponsored in part by Clarendon County Recreation Department.
"Teaching children to enjoy golf is a primary goal in our program," Hardy said. "I teach golf fundamentals as well as golfing etiquette. We want our young people to have an overall knowledge of the game."
While classroom instruction and weight training are vital to the program, nothing replaces hands-on instruction, he added.
"Having our children experience the complete golfing experience is one way for them to learn competitiveness, good sportsmanship and a respect for the game," Hardy said. "The exercise walking the course is also an added benefit, and the confidence they build over the course of the program also spills over into improving their grades in school."
The program is not all about golf, he said.
"Through the program we want to inspire our students to become better young people, better students and then better golfers," Hardy said.
During the past few years, Hardy's students have participated in numerous county, state and regional competitions including the Seabrook South Carolina Junior Golf Association's State Finals.
Hardy has expanded the program to include a Little Teams program and a program tailored for adult golfers. The programs welcome females and males in all levels of experience.
"We want to encourage everyone to take up golf," Hardy said. "It's a great sport. You get to enjoy the outdoors while getting to know other people who enjoy the sport. You exercise without really knowing it as you walk around the golf course."
While Hardy utilizes Shannon Greens Golf Course for his hands-on instruction, he's received support from other courses throughout the county.
"It's a win-win for everyone in the county," Hardy said.
During the past year, Hardy has added weight training to his curriculum. With the aid of Kevin Levy, a weight training instructor, Hardy said he's seeing his students adding more strength behind their shots as well as better endurance over the course of 18 holes of golf.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Nov. 11, the Clarendon County Golf Program is holding a golf clinic for female and male golfers of all ages from teens to seniors in the Clarendon Community Complex, 12 Maple St., behind Weldon Auditorium. The cost for each hour-long session is $10 and pre-registration is required by calling all (803) 473-3543. The clinic is sponsored by the Clarendon County Recreation Department and will be held rain or shine.
"I've had more and more older individuals wanting to attend classes," Hardy said. "This clinic offers them the chance to learn a little more about golf and to see if it's what they really want to do. It's also a chance for parents to see if their children are truly interested in the sport."
On Nov. 18, a golf tournament will be held at Shannon Greens Golf Course to raise money for the county's Youth Golf Program. The tournament will be a Captain's Choice Three-Man Scramble. The cost is $50 per person. Golfers who register before Nov. 11 will receive a $15 discount. The tournament tees off at 10 a.m. Registration runs from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. For more information or to register, call (803) 435-8752.
"The tournament is our biggest fundraiser," Hardy added. "The money we raise will allow us to offer the program to more students and purchase more equipment and training materials."