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Former NIU coach helps kids get involved in golf at a young age

Published: Monday, July 8, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
LPGA and PGA golf professional Pam Tyska instructs Gwyn Golembiewski, 11, while working on pitching Tuesday at the Buena Vista Golf Course in DeKalb.

Note to readers: This is the second article in a seven-part series on the different aspects of golf and improving a player’s game.

DeKALB – An evolution has started in youth golf.

In an attempt to grow the game, the PGA and USGA have created youth-friendly programs, hosted youth clinics at tour stops and even equipment manufactures have tailored clubs for young frames.

All have embarked on a trail that Pam Tyska has blazed for years.

The former Northern Illinois women’s golf coach and PGA and LPGA Professional who also serves as the director of golf instruction for the DeKalb Park District has long championed youth involvement. She’ll start lessons for children as young as 4 years old with the park district’s Hook a Kid on Golf program and has proudly watched players progress all the way through the junior ranks.

Despite the recent youth involvement by established golf powers, Tyska said there’s a sure way to continue to grow the game.

“The biggest way to keep young players is to get their family involvement,” said Tyska, who retired in 2012 after 26 years of leading the NIU women’s golf program. “Family involvement is so important. When parents drop their child off for a lesson I always ask if they play as well. At Buena Vista kids play for free with a paying adult on Sunday and it’s great to see all the families out there enjoying themselves.”

Commitment to players at the youth level reminds Tyska of a trend that swept through women’s golf.

“About a decade ago, the internal conversations at the PGA were about how to grow the game better,” Tyska said. “The first niche the PGA tackled was to get women more involved in golf. There’s been a huge improvement that started in the mid 1980s and lasted through the 1990s. Now you see there are customized women’s clubs. Women used to use cast of male clubs, now you see a market place for women that is just as competitive as men.

“Kids are starting to also get priority in equipment. Specialized clubs are being made that are cost efficient and more forgiving. Instead of sawing a shaft from an old club in half to fit a kid, which only makes a stiff shaft even stiffer, equipment is being offered to fit their needs.”

With Tyska on a mission to make golf an enjoyable experience for DeKalb County youth, the future of the game is bright.

INSTRUCTION

Give Pam Tyska 10 to 15 minutes.

That’s her requirement. Rather than an age restriction, Tyska asks for an attention span when parents inquire about an appropriate age to begin youth golf lessons. While she joked the aforementioned time frame might challenge some adults who are kinesthetic learners, there’s plenty to learn and enjoy in just a few minutes time.

“We can start with the basics,” said Tyska who can be reached at ptyska@comcast.net to schedule a lesson. “Young players will know how to identify the flag, the fairway, the green and the tee box. It’s simple things, but it gives them a head start on their counterparts.”

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