Inside Comments: Steve Turcotte

There’s more than just swinging the golf club at this camp for Pacific NW juniors

For the kids at the GHC Elite Golf Camp at the Home Course in DuPont, it was more than just about gripping and ripping it. Grays Harbor College Golf Coach Ann Swanson, also considered one of the best amateur players in the Pacific Northwest, started the camp in May with the hope of showing kids there is more than just hitting golf ball after golf ball.

After four camps, mission accomplished.

Along with David Elaimy, Swanson has provided some of the top juniors in the area information on how to improve on and off the course. And with Elaimy, the mental coach for the University of Washington women’s golf team, the two have made believers out of the kids – and their parents.

“It’s a very valuable experience,” said Amy Elieff-Walker of the camp for her daughter Emersyn. “It’s not just all about the playing. They have shown the kids that it’s just a game.”

For Emersyn, a 14 year old from Tacoma, the camp has been more than she hoped for.

“The camp is more than just instruction – it helps your mindset on the course,” she said.

Swanson got the idea for the camp when she was an assistant coach at Seattle University for the men’s and women’s teams. Two years ago she returned to her roots and took the head job at Grays Harbor College, an area she grew up and played on the golf team. In fact, she was the only woman to play on a men’s golf team in NWAC history.

The one-day camps feature a little of everything. But mostly it’s about the mental part of the game, short game and figuring out a way to get around the golf course in the right frame of mind.

“We are trying to developed centered individuals,” said Elaimy, whose kids Hannah and Isaac have taken part in multiple camps. “This is about letting the kids play the game without feeling the pressure when they are out there.”

One of the unique things that works well with this camp is during the last half hour, parents are invited in to hear what the coaches have to say. It’s not all about the golf.

“It’s a tough job being a parent and an even tougher job at being the parents of an elite golfer,” said Elaimy. Elaimy said that one of the biggest principles they try in instill is that performance equals skill minus interference. Meaning they try and get the kids to focus on playing without any interference. And sometimes that interference comes from the parents. It’s never a tough sell to the parents at the end of the camp.

“As parents of golfers, we know we need to give the kids some space,” said Elieff-Walker, who played college golf at the University of Oregon. “And they reinforce that with us at the camp.”

Swanson and Elaimy said their job is to make the kids realize there more than just standing on the tee box and pounding the ball down the middle.

“We want to make the kids more than just golfers,” said Elaimy, who has worked with the Washington women’s golf team for seven years, including their national championship. “We want to help kids learn about themselves and the greater things the game of golf can teach.”

For more on the golf camp, see www.ghcelitegolfcamps.com

Steve Turcotte is editor of Inside Golf Newspaper. He can be reached at sdturcotte@comcast.net.