Harpeth Valley, Clinger Introduce New Junior Program
By Gregg Dewalt
Tee Times Editor
Matt Clinger has done a little bit of everything in the golf industry.
He’s been an instructor, an assistant pro, a general manager, a product representative and a club fitter. Throughout his career, though, Clinger always had a soft spot in his heart for teaching junior golfers. After stints in Georgia, Florida and Kansas City, Clinger is back in the game at Harpeth Valley Golf Center where he is starting a US Kids Golf “Pathway Program.”
“It’s basically their level 1 through level 10 – showing the kids the basics all the way until they are prepared for tournament play,” Clinger said.
Clinger is tailoring the program almost like a physical education class and is perfect for children who aren’t going back to school or for those who are home-schooled. The program is for children ages 5 through 14 and is on schedule to begin Aug. 13.
Sessions will be offered Monday through Friday at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and there will be after-school classes Monday through Wednesday at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday classes will be at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon.
Cost is $2,000 for nine months or $250 monthly. Individual sessions are $35. Prices include range fees, course fees, US Kids Golf materials and an online portal to track progress.
“I want to make sure everybody has plenty of options,” Clinger said of the diverse time offerings. “Kids can jump in at any time.”
There are a variety of payment options – including per session or monthly (twice per week with no more than 10 kids in a session). Each session is 90 minutes.
“It’s an introduction to golf for some of them and it’s a way to hone their skills and kind of work on the things that make us better golfers,” Clinger said. “We’re trying to create a place to get the younger crowd and raise them up in the golf industry. We want to create a passion for golf in the younger generation.”
Clinger is no stranger to bringing youngsters to the game. He ran successful junior programs at clubs in Georgia, Florida and in Kansas City, and said he always has had a passion for teaching children.
Clinger was working for Honma Golf as a master club fitter when he decided it was time for him to return to teaching kids.
“That’s my passion,” he said. “I enjoy building new players and growing the game. I just felt like it was time for me to get back working with juniors. It’s so much fun for me to see a little kid hit a good ball and their reaction.”
Clinger said Harpeth Valley Golf Center is a perfect place for the academy. It features an excellent practice facility, featuring a nine-hole par-3 course, a practice range and chipping and putting greens. It also has a pro shop and offers club repair.
“It’s a great practice facility,” Clinger said. “They couldn’t have planned a better place for a junior facility. It’s designed to be a junior golf hotbed. I hope what I bring is value to Harpeth Valley.”
Clinger joins a teaching staff that includes director of golf Stan Smoot and instructors Bill Breen, Vikki Chandley and Scott Pierce. Clinger will devote his time to teaching juniors as Harpeth Valley tries to improve on that demographic.
“In talking to them, I think they saw my passion and I saw what they are trying to do,” Clinger said. “It’s a great facility and they are great people.”
Clinger is a certified US Kids Golf certified instructor. The program Clinger offers differs from others in that it starts with basic instruction but students progress through different levels and are grouped with those with similar-type skill levels. Clinger said the program is extremely structured and each student knows exactly what they will be working on in each session through an open-line portal. Players get awards when they pass each level.
Clinger, though, emphasizes that classes are designed so that the students have fun.
“I just love to see the kids as they improve,” Clinger said.
For more information, go to harpethvalleygolf.com or call Clinger at 407-449-0002.
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