Kateyln Angermann took her friend Aiden Parkinson aside after a few rounds of both of them hitting off the tee Thursday morning at Briarwood Country Club.

Having played golf for a couple of years now, Angermann, 7, briefly played the role of one of the instructors at the Downtown Optimist Club’s junior golf program.

When you swing, you want to keep your eye on the ball so you don’t miss it,” Angermann said.

Simple, yet key for hitting the ball hard. The two of them were part of the beginners group at the clinic, which began Tuesday and also offers lessons next Tuesday and Thursday, June 25 and 27, at Briarwood. There is no cost to participate. 

“We have kids here who play regularly and kids who have a club in their hands for the first time,” said Will Carpenter, who is running this year’s clinic. “It’s important that they’re around other golfers, because part of (the fun) is being around friends, and it’s something you can play young and through your later years.”

One of the bigger golfers was 5-year-old Ladarius Ransom, who despite his inexperience was able to hit the ball a long way off the tee thanks to good hand-eye coordination. It’s a similar skill to that which he acquired playing tee ball.

“You have to hit the ball and concentrate,” Ransom said. “If you hit the ball hard, it’ll fly up to the sky like in tee ball.”

It was his first time playing at Briarwood, though Ransom said he isn’t a complete stranger to the game.

“This golf course is different than the one by my house,” Ransom explained. “This one is very old.”

Bobby Parker, who’s been helping at the junior clinic for approximately two decades, said the summer program began under former Northwood Country Club pro Jimmy Gamblin, who started the Meridian Golf Association and worked with other local golf courses to teach the game to children for free. Eventually, the Downtown Optimist Club was put in charge of the event, which usually happens the last two weeks of June.

Parker coached little league baseball and played golf at Ole Miss when he was in college, so he’s no stranger to the game or to working with children.

“I like to show kids how to play and have fun,” Parker said. “It’s a great program.”

Zemaree Hampton, 12, of Madison, came to visit her grandmother in Meridian, who suggesting participating in the junior golf clinic. She’s been playing for close to seven years thanks to interest sparked in her by her uncle, Ebay Hampton, who plays. Hampton admitted the sport took some time to grow on her but said she now enjoys it.

“It’s relaxing, and it’s complicated,” Hampton said. “You have to experience it first and learn. You can’t just up and play golf and expect to know it. You have to practice.”

While this week’s clinic is complete, Carpenter stressed there will be two more sessions next Tuesday and Thursday at Briarwood if anyone else is interesting in getting their children involved. Signup is at  8 a.m. June 25 and 27 at Briarwood.

“There’s no cost,” Carpenter said. “Food, drinks and clubs are provided.”

For more information, call Will Carpenter at 601-693-9711, Trey Hannah at 601-483-3355 or Anthony Thomas at 601-485-0894.

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