Junior golf clinic a labor of love for Shelly Godekin-Wright

The Fred Alexander Jr. Memorial Golf Clinic is more than one day on the course for youngsters. To Shelly Godekin-Wright, executive director of The Fred & Judy Alexander Foundation, the true rewards come afterward.

"There's nothing I like better than getting letters from those parents who say their kids went to the clinic and enjoyed themselves to much that they took up the game and now the entire family is playing," she said. "That's really the purpose of what we're doing."

The 11th annual Fred Alexander clinic will be held Sunday in Carson City at Empire Golf Ranch Golf Course, and if past attendance is any indication, more than 800 boys and girls 7 to 17 years of age will be on hand. It's the largest "free" junior golf clinic in the Western United States, according to Godekin-Wright.

"We're gearing up for a big event," said Godekin-Wright, an Incline Village resident who founded the clinic in 1993. "We're holding it a little earlier this year, but we're hoping the weather cooperates for us."

Registration applications are available at area golf courses and sign-ups will be accepted Sunday from 10:45 a.m. until noon. The clinic, presented by The Fred & Judy Alexander Foundation and Sierra Nevada Chapter of the Northern California PGA, will start at noon and will finish by 4 p.m. Each participant will receive a free lunch, T-shirt and fanny-pack filled with goodies, complements of such sponsors as Calculated Industries, Pinnacle Golf and Digiprint.

"We're very excited about having a new facility," Godekin-Wright said. "What a wonderful opportunity for our area youth to come out and learn the game, and they don't need a penny to participate."

This is the first year the clinic is being held at Empire Ranch. It was held at Dayton Valley for six years before moving to Silver Oak in 1999.

The roots of the foundation and its clinic can be traced back to Edgewood Tahoe, where Fred Alexander was a club member before he passed away from a heart condition at age 50.

"Fred was one of those guys, he'd rather be on a golf course than anywhere else in the world, and he just loved kids," Godekin-Wright said. "I ran the junior program there at the time and he was always coming out to watch the kids."

Judy Alexander approached Godekin-Wright with the idea for a memorial fund for junior golf.

"Mrs. Alexander wanted to do this in Fred's memory," Godekin-Wright said. "I asked her what she thought about having some sort of clinic for the kids of the area. We did that first event and something like 375 kids came out, which shocked everyone at the time, and it took off from there."

She added a special thanks to the local area pros.

"The golf professionals in the Sierra Nevada Chapter are some of the greatest golf pros you're going to meet in the country. It's amazing to me how they've taken this event under their wing. This is their event as well," Godekin-Wright said.

The Foundation has expanded its reach and now hosts major clinics in three states. One was held in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. Another is scheduled in Wisconsin June 1, another in Colorado the end of June, another in Nebraska the end of July and another will be held as part of the Reno-Tahoe Open the end of August. Smaller satellite clinics are also held at various sites, according to Godekin-Wright, who has served as executive director of the foundation for seven years.

Keeping with the theme that golf is a sport for everyone, instruction for the clinic has been expanded to include disabled children.

"We strongly encourage anyone to come out and be a part of this," Godekin-Wright said. "We can accommodate them with adaptive equipment and professionals who have worked with them.

"A few years ago we started working with children with disabilities. We just felt like those kids were missing out on what was going on and we want them to get a feel for golf, that this is a way to be outdoors."

Godekin-Wright was a successful amateur player and was a member of Nebraska's Big 8 Conference championship team her junior season.

"We had a really nice team," she said. "I had a great experience at Nebraska.

"Basically I was going to be a school teacher. I never knew I'd be doing this."

She wouldn't trade this assignment for anything, though.

"When you see these events all over the place, it's very rewarding," she said. "You can imagine the time it takes to put on events like this. It's a great reward. After you're done, you think, 'What a great day this has been.' It doesn't take much to stay motivated."

Especially when she sees a young player leave the Fred Alexander clinic and join a junior program.

"We don't want this to be just a one-day thing," Godekin-Wright said. "We want to give them some instruction and develop that itch for the game."

As a special attraction to the clinic, Pinnacle Golf Distance Team Member Mike Moulton will be on hand to provide an exhibition. In addition, about 40 PGA trained instructors will be providing lessons on the long game, short game and putting. For more information, call (775) 832-4456 or e-mail shelly@alexanderfoundation.com.


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