A HEAVY COURSE LOAD YOUNG GOLFERS WHO WANT TO LEARN OR IMPROVE HAVE PLENTY OF SUMMER CHOICES.
 
[Broward Metro Edition]
South Florida Sun - Sentinel - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Author: Randall Mell
Date: May 18, 2007
Start Page: C.1
Section: Sports
Text Word Count: 1804
Document Text

Informational box at end of text.

Charlie DeLucca is so devoted to junior golf that he is willing to confess his great sin so that the parents of budding golfers will learn from it.

With summer vacation at hand, junior golf is poised to swing into full gear.

Junior camps, clinics and leagues are preparing for their busiest times.

Thousands of children will pick up their first club this summer, while others will aim to elevate their games. For many, it will be an experience that will lead to a lifetime love affair with the game. For others, it will be the proverbial "good walk spoiled." Most will have their parents to thank or blame for that.

DeLucca, who was inducted into the South Florida PGA Hall of Fame in great measure for his reputation as a giant in junior golf, knows what parents should do to get their children started properly. As importantly, he knows what they shouldn't do based on a lesson he learned the hard way.

The founder and president of the Dade Amateur Golf Association, DeLucca, 65, also founded the county's junior golf association in Miami-Dade 40 years ago and later the Doral Publix Junior Championship. His reputation is so highly regarded, Tiger Woods chose DeLucca's center at International Links Miami-Melreese as one of the six original sites for his Tiger Woods Foundation junior clinic tour 10 years ago.

With all his success, DeLucca learned his most valuable lesson in a humbling failure with his own child.

Thirty-two years ago, DeLucca signed up his son, Charlie DeLucca III, to play in his first tournament at the Redland Golf & Country Club in Homestead.

Just two holes into the event, little Charlie, only 7 then, flung his club to the turf in disgust, slammed his bag to the ground and ran fuming off the golf course.

"I had a rule in our junior program that parents couldn't be on the golf course during an event," DeLucca said. "As the executive director, I was allowed to be there, and I began following my son.

"It didn't take me long, and I was telling him that he wasn't lining up right, and that he should do this and should do that. I started doing everything I don't allow other parents to do. I was a typical father, and he ran off, all the way to the clubhouse. He wouldn't play golf for a couple years after that. I learned from that."

That the elder DeLucca learns as well as he teaches is evident in his son's success today. Charlie DeLucca III is following in his father's footsteps as a club professional with expertise in junior golf. He was named the South Florida PGA's Junior Leader of the Year in 2006.

The younger DeLucca is leading all four of the South Florida PGA- sanctioned free junior clinics in the section this summer.

"I grew to see how amazing my dad is with juniors," said Charlie DeLucca III, 39.

What the father and son have learned together is that hooking a junior on golf is all about making the learning fun. Usually, that means disconnecting parental instincts.

"I think the best way to get them started is to take them with you to the driving range and let them watch you hit balls," the elder DeLucca said. "Don't push it on them, just see if it's something they want to try. You only need one club for them in the beginning; just make sure it fits them.

"If they want to hit the ball, don't worry how they grip the club. If they grip it cross-handed, or with split hands, leave them alone. Just encourage them, praise them. If you start correcting them right away, they'll quit on you. That's the biggest problem we have with beginners.

"Let them find their own way in the beginning, and they'll develop some habits, some good and some bad, but that's OK because they'll be ready for instruction."

What's the best age to start a child? Typically, age 6 is the youngest most camps accept, but ...

"Age doesn't matter," says Dick Costello, the head professional at Boca Raton Municipal, who spent 27 years as golf professional and men's golf coach at the Cornell University Golf Course. "If they're old enough to show real interest, they're old enough to learn. An important part of that is showing the willingness to practice. I tell a parent, in no uncertain terms, I'm not a baby-sitting service. If I'm going to teach a child, I have to know a child's interested in practicing. A child's not going to have fun if he or she isn't getting better."

When a child shows consistent interest in golf, the next step is fundamentally sound instruction.

That could come once a week in a junior clinic, or in a weekly summer camp, or in one-on-one instruction.

Most courses and driving ranges offer junior clinics or camps and lessons.

"Camps and clinics are good because kids like to be around other kids," said Dan McCarthy, director of instruction at Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie, which offers free weekly summer clinics for Junior Golf Association of Broward members. "They're going to have fun together and they're going to play games, and they're going to learn while they're doing that."

Randall Mell can be reached at rmell@sun-sentinel.com.

JUNIOR GOLF PRIMER

LOCAL JUNIOR GOLF LEAGUES

Junior Golf Association of Broward County: Seven one-day tournaments and a season-finale, three-day championship with play beginning June 4 at courses throughout the county for juniors ages 8 to 18. Call 954-370-1985 or go to www.jga.org.

Palm Beach County Junior Golf Association: Eight summer tournaments (six one-day events, two two-day events) throughout the county beginning June 4 for juniors ages 8 to 18. Call 561-376-4349 or go to www.pbcjga.org.

Dade Amateur Golf Association: Ten weekly tournaments beginning June 4 for juniors 18 and younger at courses throughout Miami-Dade County. Call 305-633-4583 or go to www.dagagolf.org.

Don Law Golf Improvement Center: Saturday junior leagues at its Palm Beach County sites, plus other special tournaments. Call 561- 451-1128.

Okeeheelee Junior Tournament Series: Junior Golf Foundation of America-sanctioned tournaments for juniors 4 to 18 at Okeeheelee Golf Course in West Palm Beach. Call 561-964-4653 or go to www.thejgfa.com.

Gold Coast Junior Golf Foundation: Tournaments throughout the year in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties for juniors ages 18 and under. Host of the Prestige Junior Championship. Go to jcjgf.org.

South Florida PGA Junior Tour: Tournaments run throughout the year for juniors 12 to 18. Go to www.sflorida.pga.com and click on junior golf or call 954-752-9299.

U.S. Kids Local Tour: Summer junior tournaments in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Call 1-888-3USKids.

JUNIOR GOLF CAMPS

Most golf courses and driving ranges offer junior golf clinics and camps. Here's a sampling of camps being offered this summer. Call your local course to see what it offers:

All Golf @ C.B. Smith Park: Pembroke Pines. Call 954-441-1333.

Atlantis Country Club: Atlantis, weekly camps beginning June 11 and June 18 (Monday through Thursday, 9 to 11 a.m.), $165 per week. Call 561-968-1300.

The Links at Boynton Beach: Weekly camps beginning June 11, July 16 and July 23, $125 per week. Call 561-742-6501.

Boca Raton Municipal: Call 561-483-5226.

Bonaventure Golf Club: Call 954-389-2100.

Charlie DeLucca's School of Golf: International Links Melreese, Miami, weekly camps beginning June 4 and ending July 29 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an optional round of golf after), $245 per week. Call 305-633-4583 or go to www.dagagolf.org.

Club at Winston Trails: Lake Worth: Call 561-439-3700.

Don Law Golf Center: Boynton Beach and Boca Raton, weekly camps beginning June 4 and ending Aug. 17 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with after- care program), $235 for five days, $200 for four days, $160 for three days. Call 561-451-1128.

Deer Creek Golf Club: Call Symbiotic Golf for dates and fees at 954-428-1655.

Delray Beach Golf Club: Weekly three-day camps beginning June 5 and ending Aug. 16. (9 a.m. to noon), $200 per week. Call 561-243- 7380.

Golf Digest Academy: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, call 561- 627-7593.

Grande Oaks Golf Academy: Weekly camps (Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with separate after-care program), $400 per week. Grande Oaks is one of two instruction headquarters for the Junior Golf Association of Broward with free clinics for JGA members.

Heron Bay Golf Club: Coral Springs, weekly camps (Monday-Friday) beginning June 4 and ending Aug. 17, $499 per week. Junior clinics on Saturdays and Sundays. Call 954-796-2000.

Inverrary Country Club: Lauderhill, weekly camps beginning June 4 (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to noon), $160 per week. Call 954-733-7550.

Jacaranda Golf Club: Plantation, weekly camps beginning June 11 and ending Aug. 16, $295 summer junior membership includes a week of camp (Monday-Thursday), discount playing privileges and more. Call 954-472-5836.

Jim McLean Golf School: Weston Hills Country Club, Weston, weekly camps beginning June 4 and ending Aug. 10 (Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), $480 per week for nonmembers. Call 954-384-4663.

Lake Worth Golf Club: Lake Worth, call 561-582-9713.

Nelson's Golf School: Oriole Golf Club, Margate, call 954-340- 4070. One of two JGA of Broward junior instruction headquarters with free clinics for league members.

Okeeheelee Golf Course: West Palm Beach, weekly camps beginning June 12 to Aug. 3 (Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.), $200 per week. Home of the Junior Golf Foundation of America. Call 561- 964-4653 or go to www.okeeheeleegolf.com, and select junior camps.

Orangebrook Golf & Country Club: Hollywood, weekly camps (Monday- Friday) starting on June 11 and ending on July 27, $210 per week for full days (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), $125 per week for half days (9-11:30 a.m.). Call 954-967-4653 or go to http://jcdsportsgroup.com/

orangebrook/.

Palm-Aire Country Club: Pompano Beach, weekly camps at Conte's Palm-Aire Golf Academy, call 954-971-7867. Also, HolaMundo Camp (not exclusively golf) runs June 4 through Aug. 24 with two-week sessions, $250 per week. Call 954-975-6225.

Pompano Beach Municipal: Weekly camps beginning June 4 and ending July 27 (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday- Wednesday and Friday with a daylong session from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday), $135 per week. Call 954-781-0426.

West Palm Beach Golf Course: Weekly camps begin June 5 and end Aug. 9 (Tuesday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), $125 per week. Call 561-822-1591.

-- RANDALL MELL

[Illustration]
PHOTO 3; Caption: BROTHERS WITH CLUBS: Todd Middlebrooks,14, strikes a ball as his little brother Jake, 13, prepares to do the same at Grande Oaks Country Club in Davie. Staff photo/Angel Valentin HANDS-ON LESSON: Dan McCarthy, right, director of instruction at Grande Oaks Country Club, helps Todd Middlebrooks, 14, of Fort Lauderdale, with his swing. Staff photo/Angel Valentin Charles DeLucca, 65, is founder and president of the Dade Amateur Golf Association.

 
Abstract (Document Summary)

"Age doesn't matter," says Dick Costello, the head professional at Boca Raton Municipal, who spent 27 years as golf professional and men's golf coach at the Cornell University Golf Course. "If they're old enough to show real interest, they're old enough to learn. An important part of that is showing the willingness to practice. I tell a parent, in no uncertain terms, I'm not a baby-sitting service. If I'm going to teach a child, I have to know a child's interested in practicing. A child's not going to have fun if he or she isn't getting better."

 
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