(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Giving area kids a chance to learn the game of golf, the Bootheel Golf Course will kick off this year's edition of the First Tee Program starting April 19.
"The First Tee program is a nationwide program that teaches kids life skills through the game of golf," Bootheel Golf Course head golf professional Jeff Ketterman said. "They're some very high profile sponsorships to this program such as the PGA Tour, Augusta Golf Club and Wal Mart so they have some heavy hitters behind them.
"We're trying to not only teach kids life skills through the game, we're also trying to reach some kids who wouldn't necessarily have the opportunity to get introduced to the game of golf."
The two main instructors for this year's program will be Bootheel Golf Course assistant golf professionals Adrian Byrd and Josh Baltrusaitis.
In his third year at the course, Byrd began his golf career working for PGA Tour Superstores where he learned about golf instruction, club fitting, club refitting and golf retail. He last worked the First Tee program the year before last.
"I'm excited about the diversity that it brings," Byrd said of the program. "It's gives an opportunity to kids who wouldn't normally have a chance to come out and play to meet each other."
A graduate of the Golf Academy of America, Baltrusaitis is in his first year working with the program. He's been in the gold industry in 2001 and has worked with different country clubs around Florida.
"I'm excited to give back a little bit of knowledge to the younger kids, to help them out and get them started on the right foot," Baltrusaitis said.
The five week program will take place each Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting April 19 and wrapping up on May 17th.
Kids ages 6 to 17 can sign up when registration begins April 12 through the day the program starts.
Ketterman credits local sponsors such as Food Giant, Sikeston Elks, Health Facilities Rehab and Bain Auto Sales for making the program possible.
"What this money will go for is to furnish scholarships for kids that might not be able to afford it," Ketterman said. "In addition it provides everybody golf clubs, a place to practice and play."