Sun-kissed Cyril smiles wryly when asked when he had his first golf lesson. ‘Seventeen,’ he replies proudly, before reacting to my raised eyebrow. ‘I had natural talent.’ He grins with the kind of bonhomie and life-experience normally reserved for loveable movie rogues. Who would have thought Kindergarten Golf lessons would be so charismatic?
Cyril Rozes is one of the two professionals hosting the Kindergarten Golf Junior Programme lessons at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. These eight-week courses, also available at Emirates Golf Club, are designed to introduce tiny Tigers to the fundamentals of the ‘long walk spoiled’ in a fun and safe environment, with a view to encouraging children to pursue one of the few sports that can truly last a lifetime.
Golf is in many aspects unique in that regard, with junior converts likely to gain decades of enjoyment from this all-inclusive sport that is not restricted to age or gender. On top of that, it’s great fun, and Dubai provides the ultimate opportunity to enjoy the game on its glorious greens and fabulous fairways.
Cyril is accompanied by energetic young Scot George Kasparis, with both exuding a passion and joie de vivre that is refreshing – especially on a Friday morning after a frazzling week at work. In fact, it’s hard to not feel jealous of their skills and where their ‘work’ has taken them. Teaching kids is clearly the icing on the cake for them both.
Aimed at four- to seven-year-olds, these weekly sessions are all about introducing the basics rather than perfecting that all-important pitch and putt, with lessons broken down into attention-friendly segments that instil discipline, concentration and new skills. Yes, for four-year-olds.
If, like me, the thought of your offspring swinging some heavy metal around his head fills you with The Fear, then worry not. Safety is rule Number One, and reinforced at the beginning of each lesson. This is essential, and all part of the discipline and concentration elements of the course.
Parents (pushy or otherwise) are purposefully kept away from the action, waving off their wannabes at The Academy, while the kids are carted off to the far side of the course far removed from distractions and stray strokes.
Warm-up is followed by some swing basics and pupils are soon put through their paces under the watchful eyes of the experts, who take time to give one-on-one tuition to all the tots. Different disciplines are introduced, from pitching to putting, with fun games encouraging focus. ‘They learn about the object of the game and we work on the very basics, including aim, grip and finish position,’ says head academy pro, Stephen Hubner.
The hour flies by like a perfectly struck ball, while the kids heed advice and leisurely learn all about the game, from terminology to technique.
‘Some kids pick things up quicker than others,’ says Stephen. ‘The Kindergarten classes are mostly about giving children a fun experience of the game. They will understand the game’s aim and learn the basics of putting, chipping and driving and also take part in fun competitions. At seven, kids can move into our ‘Young Masters Golf’ programme where they move through various levels, taking part in skills tests. It’s not expected that a five-year-old will be able to play a proper game on the Par-3 course after only eight weeks, but if parents bring them along between lessons, they will progress more quickly.’
The message is clear: Golf is for life, not just for Kindergarten. ‘It helps educate children on discipline, etiquette and manners and is a wonderful way of teaching them patience, honesty and the importance of good sportsmanship,’ says Hubner.
And living in Dubai offers the perfect opportunity to introduce youngsters to this civilised, global game, providing them with lifetime enjoyment, whether gifted or grafter.
‘If you have ability, sometimes you don’t work so hard,’ suggests Cyril. ‘With hard work, you can become better than someone with ability. Luckily, I had ability.’ He laughs heartily and moves on to correct another swing-in-the-making, clearly a man happy with his work and his talent.
Kings of swing
The Kindergarten Golf package is Dhs800 and includes eight one-hour group lessons, all equipment, unlimited use of the academy facilities and certificates of achievement. The next course begins on February 13, 2011. The Young Masters Golf (the number one junior coaching programme carried out worldwide) for kids aged eight to 17 years includes the same package for Dhs850. (04 295 6000; email@example.com; www.dubaigolf.com).