Just when Alberni Golf Course assistant pro Brian Rand figures the junior golf program has leveled off, the numbers surprise him again. This spring is no different, as Rand is expecting 150 young golfers to participate in the program.
“We have big numbers this year. Lots of new people with a different age variance. Lots of girls too,” he said.
This is Rand’s 11th year running the junior program; he started with 42 kids and has seen steady improvement in the past decade.
The program is sustainable, with a good repetition of growth, he said. “It’s looking like we’re going to have a couple of dozen new kids. There’s a few kids coming back who have been away for a couple of year and decided to come back and play golf.”
James Maxwell has been part of the program for two years and is entering his third. He said he loves golfing.
Wade Sabiston, 13, is going into his third year of the junior program; he also golfed for a year before that after his grandfather introduced him to the sport.
“He came out of his shell last year with me,” Rand said of Sabiston. “He’s one of the great guys around here, willing to help out. He’s a good player in his own right and could be really good really soon.”
A young man of few words, Sabiston said he prefers the individual competition he gets from golf. He has a 24 handicap and last year shot a 92, “which is wonderful for a guy his age,” Rand said.
Sabiston particularly enjoys the tournaments in the junior program. Players take group lessons and work on a variety of skills throughout the summer, and eventually have mini-tournaments among each other—about four per month in July and August. They play seven, nine or 18 holes depending on their skill level (Sabiston is already playing 18 holes).
Sabiston has grown each year he has been in the program, Rand said, and “could be something special.” Sabiston is called ‘Steady Eddie’ by some because of his strong drives.
“He pounds it down the middle every time. And quite far,” Rand said.
The junior golf open house takes place Saturday, April 23 from 1–3 p.m. and is open for any youth under 18 years who lives in the Alberni Valley. Youth and their parents are welcome to come to the course, try some golf, ask some questions and enjoy a barbecue.
The junior program begins on Monday, May 31. Cost for the year is $235 and includes a year of unlimited golfing. For more information, please call the pro shop at 250-723-5422.