In its third season, the Marlinton Middle School golf club has developed its skills on the green at the Pocahontas County Country Club.
The team’s volunteer coach, Jean Srodes, is excited to see how the team has grown and how their skills have improved.
“I never say ‘no,’ and sometimes I have kids that come out and play once, and it’s not their thing, and sometimes it’s a kid you don’t expect to love it and they really do,” she said. “It’s a wonderful surprise.”
The club doesn’t compete against other schools. Instead, they focus on golf basics and the etiquette of the sport.
“It’s just really been learning the game, but more important than the rules of the game – to me – are the etiquette and manners,” Srodes said. “It is so different from any other sport they play. A big part of this is – we don’t run, we don’t swing our club, we don’t shout from hole-to-hole, we don’t get tired and lay down on the grass. It’s a whole new experience for them.”
Students joined the club for several reasons, but mostly agree they wanted to try something new.
For sixth grader Landon Gibson, the club introduced him to a game his grandpa plays, and gives him an activity to do with his friends.
“I thought it would be fun,” Gibson said. “It’s awesome. It’s fun. I get to see my friends and just hit the ball.”
Srodes said although some of the students have only been playing a month, they have caught on quickly.
“[Landon] plays with two boys whose dads play, and one said they thought he had been playing five years, and one thought he had been playing at least four,” Srodes said. “They asked Landon how long he had been playing and they were impressed when he said he’d been playing for a month.”
Some students joined the club because of their love of the game.
“I love to play golf,” sixth grader David Gibb said. “I play golf with my dad. I watch golf on TV, and I just like it. I see how well the professionals do and it just makes me want to do what they do.”
The club is open to boys and girls, one of only a few sports in the county open to both.
Sixth grader Hazel Riley joined the club to add to the sports in which she already participates.
“I do soccer, archery and I might do basketball this year,” she said. “I just thought golf would be fun. With golf, you have to have more patience and more focus and be more careful.”
Now that it’s in its third year, the club has recently bought shirts to make them more “official.”
“I applied for a Snowshoe Foundation grant last year and the money paid for their shirts,” Srodes said. “I feel it has given us a whole new presence at the golf course. Instead of just coming out and looking like a motley crew, we actually look like golfers.”
With the Country Club closing for the winter, the golf club will take a sabbatical until spring. As the members and coach look forward to the spring season, they are planning to host an event where they can show off their skills.
“We’re hoping, in the spring, to have some type of scramble or some type of a tournament,” Srodes said. “I’m open to whatever we can do.”
Along with Srodes, volunteers Jessica Hays and Becky Campbell help the club.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org