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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:07:09 09:53:10

The winner of the 2017 Longest Drive competition, Jack Burke, works in his short game in a drill designed to reduce how high the club is swung.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:07:09 09:29:20

Varsity golfer Mariah Tague, Marina Tague, Sara Olshan, and Kylie Zaleski wait for the camp to begin.

Dakota Brown surveyed the large group of young golfers in front of him smiled.

More than 25 golfers from area schools, including Tunkhannock Area and Lackawanna Trail, hit the links at Shadowbrook Golf Course this week for quality instruction.

“The kids can register at the start of camp, so numbers are changing by the minute. But they are certainly up from last year,” said Brown, a graduate of Tunkhannock Area High School.

Younger golfers make up the bulk of the camp, but it is open to ages eight - 18.

Mariah Tague, a member of Tunkhannock’s varsity golf team, attended for the first time this year. She said, “I wanted to see what it was all about, and get some extra swings in before the season starts.”

“I am here because I want to golf,” said Tunkhannnock’s Kylie Zaleski, while pushing her personalized golf bag. She anticipates joining the high school team when she is old enough.

Most schools in our area do not have junior high golf programs. Brown said that Tunkhannock High School encourages the middle school students to come to the course and transition to the golf program with Coach Andy Neely.

Bob Brown, Shadowbrook’s director of golf operations, says the camp has been running successfully for about 10 - 15 years.

“We brought Cody in this year, he’s my youngest brother, because we thought he would be someone the kids could look up to. He’s good for the kids, he can teach them a lot. He can teach what it means to play competitive golf, where others can’t.”

The younger Brown certainly can back up his older brothers praise.

Dakota is a professional golfer who played Division I golf at Florida Atlantic University and graduated in 2013.

After college, he began to do mini tours on the golf circuit, but when his brother approached him this past winter about doing the camp, he was excited because it was the first time the camp fit into his schedule.

Eleven-year-old Hallie Brown, served as his assistant throughout the week.

“I want the kids to have fun, and to understand that golf is fun, golf is cool. This is a game you can play for the rest of your life,” Brown explained.

About half of the campers Monday morning were returners, including Ben Landon, a Roslund student. “This is my fourth time here. It is really fun to come out and learn new stuff about golf,” said Landon.

With an estimated five schools represented, Brown is eager to teach everything golf related.

Intangibles such as golf etiquette and thinking ahead in a round will be addressed, as well as fundamentals, grips, putting, chipping, and even going through each club in the bag and its function.

“But the most important thing is learning to have fun,” said Brown.

He continued, “We are fortunate to have such great weather in the forecast. We will start from the ground up with the beginners.”

There will be daily contests and on the final day, competitions will be held for putting, chipping, closest to the pin, and longest drive.

Last year’s longest drive champion, Jack Burke, was on hand to defend his title this year.

Also on the final day, all campers are treated to a luncheon and some pool time, along with prizes, for completion of the camp.

Even though the camp runs through Thursday, the lessons learned from Brown will stay with the kids longer.

“I just want them to all have a good time, and play golf,” he concluded.