For eight weeks each spring and fall, Riverview Golf Course in Mesa plays host to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community youth golf clinic. Recreation Coordinator II Stan Overturf has been assisting at the clinic, which is led by Riverview Head Golf Pro Craig Porter. The junior golf program has been offered to Community children for the past five or six years.
Overturf said between 15 and 20 players take part in the clinic and currently there are seven new kids participating, which is proof that the interest in golf is growing. The current session began on March 14 and ends on May 2.
“These clinics generate interest from the Community youth,” Overturf explained. “Some kids [who attended the clinic previously] are active in golf and they are still playing, and it’s good to see them keeping the game alive. This is a growing sport for Native Americans and getting a lot of interest, and you can see that with the youth.”
Overturf said there are several scholarships available for junior golfers, especially as the players develop their game.
“Golf is a very humbling game, and it teaches discipline, teamwork and how to stay focused,” he said.
The clinic is open to kids ages 6 to 12 and the equipment is provided through the SRPMIC Recreation Department. After the youth receive instruction and practice for several weeks, during the final two weeks of the program parents are invited to take part, which gives them the opportunity to golf as a family or spend time on the driving range.
Community member Evenna Lopez has participated in the golf clinic for two sessions, while Maya Washington is participating for the fifth year. Both girls say they enjoy spending time out on the golf course.
“We can just play golf and have fun out here, and I like that,” Washington said.
Lopez said she believes golf is an easy sport to learn, but agreed with Washington that the most difficult part is learning how to finish the golf swing, which is what Porter has been going over with the group.
“Every day some of the kids learn something new and have showed improvement, and those that want to get better really have,” Porter said.
Porter said some of the kids participating in the junior golf program have natural abilities with the sport, and he looks forward to continuing to develop their skills and hopes they will continue to pursue golf.
“In my opinion, golf is the best sport, and being able to teach kids the game of golf is great,” Porter said. “Golf teaches these kids etiquette, sportsmanship and discipline, which ultimately prepares them for school and helps them learn how to become dedicated to something and practice at it in order to improve. Golf teaches kids overall life skills.”