B.C. has a reputation for charging its up-and-coming golfers a lot of money.
That’s in part why Lance Kraus believes the new golf academy opening at Maple Ridge secondary in September 2018 is going to take off like Rory McIlroy just hit it with a driver.
“The price to compete really turns a lot of people off,” said Kraus.
He said the amount British Columbians pay for private coaching – up to $300 per hour – is laughed at across the country.
Kraus is not just speaking as a guy who is going to head up an academy that will offer more affordable instruction, but also as a father whose child has fallen in love with the sport. Sixteen-year-old Sienna Kraus is hitting in the low 70s. She was a BC Summer Games silver medallist in 2016, and has a win and a top-three finish in CJGA events.
So Kraus has become keenly aware of what opportunities there are for want to pursue golf as a serious sport, and what it costs to get involved.
He said the academy fees of $1,800 per year are going to attract a lot of athletes.
“The value is incredible. There is nothing out there for under $2,000, and the kids also get a partial (golf club) membership.
Their fees will include use of the chipping and putting greens and some rounds at the Pitt Meadows Golf and Country Club, but he will be recommending all of the students pay an additional fee of $150 to get a full club membership, and get full use of the facilities.
Kraus said it is a smart move by the golf club, because business analysts are starting to warn that golf will not grow as a sport unless more young people are interested. The academy is going to start with 20 students
The main club pro is Brad Ewart, who played on the Asian tour, and a lot of instruction will be done by club pros from Pitt Meadows. Kraus is also a level three certified coach.
There will also be a chipping/putting and training area right at the high school, as well as an indoor swing analysis room with a simulator. The kids will whack the ball, and the simulator will show what its flight would have been on a screen.
Kraus said swing analysis has come a long way, and this kind of work can help kids take their game to the next level.
They will also study yoga, the psychology of golf, nutrition and other sports-related topics as part of their academy program, with about half of their academy time spent in school and half on the golf course.
The academy will be for students in Grades 8-12, and Kraus said it will not be too intense.
“We will let them be kids, and let them have run.”
Eventually, Kraus would like to see the Maple Ridge academy put a competitive team into an elite inter-academy competitive circuit. There are already golf academies in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. But that will be fore another year.
“We’re opening the doors for more kids who want to try golf,” he said.
It will make it a sport for everyone.
“These types of academies will help golf in the future, because it’s not exclusive, it’s inclusive.”
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