By Julie M. Lucas
NAS Jacksonville Public Affairs

A future Phil Mickelson or Michelle Wie just maybe on NAS Jacksonville, working on their putting or chipping at the Junior Golf Clinic. Students are taught by Assistant Golf Pro Angello Collins and are finishing up their summer sessions.

"We started with a clinic in June, another in July and this is our final one," Collins said. 

On day one, Collins worked on full swing lessons with different shot power positions. He incorporated from what range of motion of the swing, for the distance needed in the shot and using different clubs. At one point, Collins put a bucket in front of the driving range as a target.

"I got this!" said Kris Thorne, age 6. Thorne said that while golf isn't his favorite sport he does enjoy playing with his dad.

"We've play 18 holes together," Thorne said. At the end of day two, Thorne was sad to leave the clinic and wanted more time on the course.

The next day the youths spent time working on chipping and putting. Collins teaches private lessons at the golf course and according to him, golf is the perfect sport for younger children.

"Golf is a great way for kids to work on hand/eye coordination and this clinic really helps develop players," Collins said. He estimates that approximately 50 percent of the clinic participants have previous golf experience. Some of the youths from the clinic go on to participate as junior tournament players year round. Junior golfer Ezra Metz, age 10, said he got his first set of clubs from his grandparents, who encouraged him to start golfing while his father was deployed.

"I really like the time I have spent on the golf course and I'm getting better," Metz said. "Angello makes golfing fun."

Collins was assisted during the week by Ryan Haley, a former junior golf clinic attendee, who golfs at Paxon School for Advanced Studies. Haley said that he wanted to help out with the youths because of his previous experience.

"Angello is my driving coach and my mom encouraged me to volunteer to help out," Haley said. "It is very rewarding for me to give back and help these kids become better golfers."

The week ended with the students participating in a round of golf on the white course, as family members cheered on their junior golfer.

"This clinic helped me learn the rules of golf and I really enjoyed it," said Alyssa Lee, age 10.

The NAS Jacksonville Golf Course offers 27 holes of golf, with a pro shop available for gear. The course is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset. For more information about upcoming golf events, call 542-3249.