For an rural school such as Clever High School, its boys golf team doesn’t get many opportunities to learn directly from a golf teaching professional.
Which is why Brayden Lightfoot, a senior, was all smiles Monday at Highland Springs Country Club, as he learned from a golf pro – for fee.
“I’ve always been a big swinger, so I need to shorten it up a little bit,” he said of what he learned. “Last season, I shot in the 80s, so I’m looking to possibly get into the 70s this year.”
In other words, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s annual High School Golf Clinic presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company hit its intended target Monday as 100 teens descended on Highland Springs Country Club.
Teams from Central, Clever, Hillcrest, Kickapoo, Kickapoo, Glendale, Reeds Spring, Monett and Marshfield turned out for a day that reached nearly 60 degrees. Afterward, they were treated to sandwiches from Chick-fil-A.
Even better, the they took tips from Highland Springs Director of Golf Brian Maloney, who brought in Highland’s Steve Harrison as well as the following: Rick Neal of Hickory Hills Country Club, Garrett Holt of Horton Smith Country Club, Larry Ray of Rivercut Golf Course, John Bradish of Springfield Golf, Rich Brittan and Mike Miguel of Twin Oaks, Rick Grayson of the Connie Morris Center, Evan Bradley, Brad Keating and then Danny Daily of Bill & Payne Stewart Golf & Country Club.
Said Clever coach Jeff Boyles, “Our kids don’t get to come and see a course like this. These are the top golf professionals in the area, so they are getting some great advice.”
Monett should have a competitive team this spring and brough 15 golfers. Among them was Jaxon Bailey, a sophomore who helped the Cubs reach the state meet last year.
“I think it’s great for everyone on the team to get some range work in and especially talk to some good professionals for free,” Bailey said. “At Monett, we don’t get this luxury. My pro told me my grip was too strong.”
Said Monett coach Brian Cox, “This is very helpful.”
Marshfield’s Wyatt Davis, a junior, expressed appreciation for the golf professionals taking their time to turn out.
“This is nice,” Davis said. “When I got my first lesson, it really improved my game. Most of our guys, this is their first lesson, so it’s really going to help them out.”
Kickapoo’s Sarah Trautman, a sophomore, thought it was beneficial, too.
“I tend to hit a little flat, so it’s kind of re-correcting my grips to get a little more distance and a little more height,” Trautman said. “It’s nice to have a little interaction and hear from different perspectives. People out here really want to get better.”
Derek Wilson, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s Director of Facilities and Management, call the event a success.
“Anytime you can bring a ton of teen golfers out to learn from great pros is a win,” Wilson said. “And we had great weather, considering it had been chilly over the weekend. We want to thank all of the golf pros who turned out, as well as Ozarks Coke and Chick-fil-A.”