MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
In 1986, then Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger designated each April as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the sacrifices the children of service members also make for their country. According to the Department of Defense website, commands are encouraged to plan activities in support of the Month of the Military Child that will benefit the development and growth of military children.
Following suit, the Torii Pines Golf Course here hosted the annual Junior Golf Camp in support of The Month of The Military Child April 12. The three-day camp involved approximately 35 children ages 8-12 and went until April 14.
“This is about making the kids comfortable on the golf course,” said Paul Hahn, Torii Pines Golf Course manager.
After participating in the camp, the children will be confident enough to play on any golf course no matter what base they get stationed, he added.
During the first day, the children rotated through different stations learning the basics of putting, swinging the golf club and chipping the ball into the hole.
On the second day, they played on the golf course and learned the rules and etiquette involved in the game. The children ended the camp on the third day with a golf competition.
“If they start to play the game now at this age, we hope by the time they get in high school and college, they’ll be good enough to play on a golf team,” said Hahn.
Hahn added, he’s never met a golfer who didn’t want to start playing golf earlier and he wants to give the children here that chance. Aside from learning the basics of golf, the camp offered the children a chance to interact with other children their own age with similar interests and experiences.
Kimberly Melin, a station resident, said her 10-year-old daughter, Paige, jumped at the chance to participate in the camp.
“She golfs with her dad, but if she can also do it with kids her own age, it’s even better,” said Melin. “They are so limited to what they can do here. I think any opportunity the base has where the kids can come out and interact with each other is great.”
Michael Yanosky, a 12-year-old golf camp attendee, was one of the many children who appreciated what the camp offered.
Yanosky said he’s only played golf three times before and felt he was able to improve his putting skills and really enjoyed the lessons on the driving range during the camp.
“I think this is a good way to support Month of the Military Child because maybe all these people have parents that are in the military and they get a chance to hang out and kind of share their experiences,” said Yanosky. “They can also just share their experiences in playing golf.”
The Torii Pines Golf Course hours are seasonal. Patrons can call 253-3402 to set a tee time. Junior golf club rentals for children ages 8-17 are free but must pay a green fee of $5 to play all day.