Dain Whitehead says he’s “seven and three quarters” years old, and already has what seasoned golfers refer to as “the bug.”
“I saw it on TV and just wanted to do golf,” he said. Parent-and-child golf classes at Pinecrest Golf Course gave him and the opportunity to learn the game with his mother.
“Gretchen had never golfed before and thought it was something they could do together,” said Dain’s father, Matt Whitehead, a casual golfer who accompanied Dain one Saturday when his mom had a scheduling conflict. “The instruction is good here, the class is just the right length – one hour for five weeks, and what’s nice about this program is they supply the clubs for the lessons, so you don’t have to make a big investment.”
Chris Fleury thought it was a good way to spend time with his 13-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. “We enjoyed learning together,” he said. “She already thinks she’s better than I am.”
“I am,” she said with a determined smile. “My [maternal] grandpa was a big golfer, so it’s in my blood,” she reasoned.
Parents say instructor, Bill Pessaud, has a knack for connecting with young children on their level while varying instruction for older children and adults.
“I haven’t done golf for a long time,” said 9-year-old Joseph L. Granato, “and Mr. Bill is really helping me out by teaching me how to use clubs and corrects the mistakes that I make.” His father, Joseph R. Granato was equally impressed. “Bill doesn’t overload the kids with too much information. The whole session is broken down into 30 or 40 minutes with each club.”
Pessaud’s approach is that of a grandfatherly figure whose gentle encouragement inspires confidence in his students.
The parent-and-child golf class begins with fundamentals like grip, posture and ball alignment and progresses to putting, chipping and full-swing drives. Pessaud also stresses the importance of following the rules, proper etiquette and safety.
“If you hit the ball in the woods, don’t reach in with your hand to get the ball; use the club to get it out because there might be poison ivy,” he explained during a lesson on tee shots. “If the ball goes into the water, don’t try to go in and get it because you could slip and fall in.” He says safety is his number one priority when teaching children how to play golf, followed by good sportsmanship.
“Golf is an integrity sport, and there’s no referee and no umpire,” he explained. “People who are too intense are not fun to play with. The most important thing is to have fun.”