RENO - They came in all shapes and sizes. Young and old. Boys and girls. Experienced and inexperienced.
Approximately 120 youngsters descended on Montreux Golf & Country Club Tuesday morning eager to participate in the free golf clinic put on by the Fred and Judy Alexander Foundation in conjunction with the Reno-Tahoe Open.
"This is the fourth or fifth," said Shelly Godeken-Wright, executive director of the foundation. "They all run together. Jim Kline (RTO director) wanted to do something. I told him we could put on a clinic because that's what I do.
"Jim told us to put it together. I expected about 200 or 300 today. This time of the year is tough. A lot of schools are starting and people are on vacation. We're facing a size issue. This end (of the driving range) is pretty small."
Godeken-Wright enlisted club pros from all over Northern Nevada and others came from the Sacramento area, too.
"All the men and women are awesome," Godeken-Wright said. "I think we have 23 here today.
"For a lot of these kids, it's their first exposure to golf. It's an introductory thing, though we get some kids that have played a lot. It's a pretty special day."
Besides the golf instruction, the kids enjoyed a lunch and there were raffles, too. And for those who didn't have clubs, Godeken-Wright sent them home with a club.
It was a special day for the club pros, too. You can tell they love to teach, and they showed extraordinary patience with their inexperienced charges.
"It's always fun working with kids," said Matt Laporte, an assistant pro at Sunridge Golf Course. "For a lot of them, it's their first time. The most important thing is to keep it fun. You have to do that to keep their attention. They get burned out by doing the same thing over and over."
Lou Eiguren, head pro at Genoa Lakes, has been doing it every year since it started.
"Most kids are here because they want to be," Eiguren said. "Shelly does a great job putting this together.
"The kids 10 and older are a little more attentive. The littler kids are a little nervous. I talk to them and ask them their name and what school they go to. I try to build a little relationship with them."
The kids and their parents were treated to a demonstration by young touring pros Matt Hendrix and Nick Flanagan, who took turns blasting the ball down the driving range, drawing oohs and aahs from the youngsters.
Hendrix even showed the appreciative crowd a couple of trick shots. The first involved putting a ball in the box (sleeve that it comes in). He teed it up and drove the ball out of the box and down the fairway. The second involved putting two balls down in a row on the ground. Hendrix hit a 7-iron, and made the front ball go down the fairway and the back ball plopped up a few yards down the fairway just as he hoped it would.
Both golfers stressed keeping the sport fun, and working on their putting and chipping until they were big enough to really drive the ball well off the tee.
Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1281.