Summer is here and the Montverde Academy Golf Camp, run by Head Golf Coach Neil Barnhill – a PGA member and instructor, is in full swing at Bella Collina
! Yes – pun intended. What was planned as a three-week camp program has expanded to six weeks with 35-40 campers expected to participate, compared to last year’s camp, which was only one week and attended by eight campers.
Campers, ages 7 to 16 at all skill levels, hit the Bella Collina course for morning training. They work on the fundaments, mechanics and techniques of the golf game. With a small group of six golfers on the course, Coach Barnhill helps each player with putting and chipping. He then focuses on each individual’s full swing – helping them to find the best grip, stance, posture, and alignment to enhance the swing and improve their game. Out on the course, players also learn the rules of the game, scoring, sportsmanship, and etiquette – important things such as knowing where to stand during play, keeping score, no talking, and even what to wear.
“We start off focused on small strokes, playing games and having fun to really engage our players,” said Coach Barnhill. “When players have fun, it makes them want to practice to win the games, which ultimately leads a passion for golf. Refining the small strokes helps a player gain confidence. Once they’ve built some comfort and confidence with a swing, we take on the big swings, which aren’t as intimidating when you’re having fun.”
Summer golf camp is a great way for a student to see if he/she likes the game enough to join the Golf Team, which is a young team playing a varsity level sport at Montverde Academy led by Coach Barnhill. Tryouts for the team will be held in early August and practice for the season starts before school begins as the first meet is scheduled for August 21, the first day of school. The team is comprised of eight boys and eight girls that participate in 10 to 12 matches during the regular season, running from August through October.
During the off season, training continues with Coach who offers a strength and conditioning program two days a week for his golfers as well as individual instruction. A former gym owner, Coach holds eight certificates for training instruction, which he actively utilizes working with student-athletes in off season. “Physical fitness is key to success in golf, so training in a cross-fit style program that engages the whole body is ideal to build strength, agility, flexibility, and power – all of which is used in golf as well as every other sport.”
Middle school students have been introduced to elements of golf through SNAG (Start New At Golf) during PE classes. Using tennis balls and a club with a bigger head and hand grips that ensure proper hand placement, students begin to learn the mechanics of a golf swing by trying to hit targets with the ball. This first introduction to golf has resulted in a number of students joining the golf team. Coach Barnhill will be doing this program again in middle school in the coming school year and hopes to offer the game in lower school classes as well.