For Springfield Central High School’s Ethan Brody, it was a chance to touch up on his golf game and spring-board into another memorable season. For golf novices such as Reeds Springs’ Jenna Wanko, it was even better. After all, a dozen PGA golf professionals from area courses were on hand.
In other words, the 2017 High School Hole In One Golf Clinic presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company became a resounding success Monday at Highland Springs Country Club. The event drew high school golf teams from across southwest Missouri on a picture-perfect, sunny afternoon on the golf course’s driving range. The event then finished in the auditorium of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, where players received updates about new rules, plus enjoyed dinner from Chick-fil-A and Price Cutter Supermarkets. All received Coca-Cola T-shirts.
“For me, I got more of a precise lesson than what I get from my dad,” Brody said. “They are precise with instruction where my dad explains it more broadly.”
Brody was a medalist in the district tournament a year ago and, this being his final season, he arrived to the event with questions in mind. Specifically, he wanted to know ways to improve his alignment.
“That’s the big thing I have trouble with,” Brody said. “The golf pro said my alignment, to sugarcoat it, really stunk. But he helped me fix it. It’s all good now.”
Highland Springs’ Director of Golf, Brian Maloney, led the cavalcade of golf pros. They included Highland Springs’ Stephen Harrison, the Head Golf Pro, and Steven Schumate, Assistant Pro. Additionally, other courses were represented, such as Jim Gregory of Millwood Golf & Racquet Club, Rivercut Golf Course’s Rick Grayson, Steve King and Ronnie Sweet, Horton Smith’s Garrett Holt, former Twin Oaks golf pro Max Arrowood and Shawn Freeman of Bill & Payne Stewart Golf Course.
Wanko, a sophomore at Reeds Spring High School, expressed surprise that she received top-level instruction in her first season in the sport.
“I just took it up for fun, and I’m really liking it,” Wanko said. “This helps. It’s different input than what I get from my coaches and teammates.”
That’s one of the reasons why Ron Yocum brought his Kickapoo High School golfers to the clinic. The Chiefs make the annual trek to Highland Springs and, like on Monday, don’t hesitate to ask the golf pros a ton of questions.
“We have a wide variety of golfers. Some are skilled. Some are just up from beginners,” Yocum said. “So for them to come here and learn from a PGA professional, it’s a great opportunity. And they hear it from someone besides me. We’ve been here when it’s 40 degrees and we’re freezing. But I never hear our group complain. They always want to come back to this.”