Instructor Mackenzie Barrie (left) agonizes over the just-missed effort of Vernon’s Waylon Trainor (right) with younger brother Townes Trainor looking on during the free Watkin Motors Ford Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour Clinic Sunday, July 19, at Vernon’s Predator Ridge Resort. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Junior golfers flock to Vernon course for free clinic

Two sessions of nearly 50 golfers enjoy introduction to lifetime sport at Predator Ridge Resort

On the one hand, right-hander Gavin Mazurak of Vernon was making a 15-foot putt through three gates, witnessed by fellow seven-year-old newbie Keith Bailey of Vernon.

Yet on the next, there was Mazurak missing a tap-in putt.

Welcome to the world of golf, Gavin.

Mazurak and Bailey were joined by about two dozen other colleagues being introduced to the great sport at the Ford Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour Clinic, sponsored by Vernon’s Watkin Motors Sunday afternoon at Predator Ridge Resort.

“Today we have a clinic for young kids aged six-to-12 that is free, sponsored by Watkin Motors, that introduces the kids to golf,” said Chris Hood, BC tournament for the Maple Leaf Junior Tour, which will play a 36-hole event Monday and Tuesday, July 20 and 21, before heading south down Highway 97 to the Okanagan Course in Kelowna for another 36-hole tourney Thursday and Friday, July 23 and 24.

Kids at the Sunday clinic were separated into two groups, each getting an hour at three stations that showed them how to drive off the tee, how to chip and get a feel for putting, led by teaching pros.

“We’ve been at Predator the last three seasons,” said Hood. “It’s fantastic. For the kids, it’s paradise. We have golfers from Alberta, the Okanagan, the Lower Mainland, and families are making a summer vacation out of it.

“We’re practicing social distancing and the kids are learning to play golf.”

A number of Vernon golfers will tee it up in the Maple Leaf 36-hole event at Predator. Representing the home course will be Tanner Witt, Austin Armanini, Jaden Snitynski and defending tournament age-group champ Ryan Vest.

Also taking part, from the Vernon Golf and Country Club, are defending women’s age-group runner-up Kendra Jones-Munk and Braxton McDonald.

The event has drawn a full field of 91 golfers aged 10-19.

READ MORE: Vest from Vernon victorious on home course

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Mila Murota, eight, (left) from Vancouver sinks a putt with younger sister Madelyn Murota, six, looking on during the free Watkin Motors Ford Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour Clinic Sunday, July 19, at Vernon’s Predator Ridge Resort. Kids aged six-to-12 were given a one-hour introduction to the sport. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Instructor Mackenzie Barrie gives some putting pointers to kids aged six-to-12 at the free Watkin Motors Ford Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour Clinic Sunday, July 19, at Vernon’s Predator Ridge Resort. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

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