Camp Villages big draw on its first day back

Helena Jaeger, of Jacksonville, practices her putting at Palmer Legends Country Club. Camp Villages kicked off the summer Monday with a putting clinic for grandchildren and grandparents.

Camp Villages kicked off a summer of fun Monday with a putting clinic for grandchildren and grandparents. “Camp Villages is great,” said Doug Bass, of the Village of Bonita. “I think it’s a great opportunity to watch my grandson and get to spend some time with him.” Bass and his 12-year-old grandson Connor, visiting from Texas, took part in the clinic at Palmer Legends Country Club. The clinic was the first event of the nine-week summer Camp Villages calendar. Grandchildren learned putting techniques and did drills before playing a game with grandparents joining in on the fun.

Golf Instruction

U.S. Kids Certified Coach and The Villages Golf Academy instructor Wade Martin, of the Village of Labelle, started the day teaching the children how to properly hold a putter, showing them the proper stance and how to hit the ball correctly.

The grandchildren who participated then rotated through six different drills to hone their putting skills.

One drill had tees set up for the putter to fit between so kids could hit the ball in the same consistent place with each stroke. The next drill was short 3-foot putts with different breaks. The third drill was putts of about 12 feet.

Another drill had balls with two different colors. One half-white, half-black split down the middle. The drill taught golfers to hit the ball down the middle on a line and not to let the ball wobble. The next instruction was hitting a ball between two tees on the way to the hole to improve accuracy. The last drill for the golfers was 5-foot putts.

Playing Games

After the practice, grandparents joined in for a game Martin called “Cow Pasture Pool.” Six spots were set up around one hole on the green, all the same distance away. Each grandchild partnered with their grandparent and stood at one of the spots. Each spot had four balls of one color.

Teams took turns trying to sink putts, alternating between grandchild and grandparent each turn. After determining which team went first, the game went clockwise for turns. However, if a golfer made his or her putt, they got to go again until they missed. The first team to sink all four of their balls and a black “8 ball” won.

The team of Bill and William Russ won both games. Bill, of the Village of Pinellas, had three straight putts of his blue golf balls go in during the first round. His grandson Bill, 13, visiting from Atlanta, sank the final putt in the first game and opened the second game sinking two putts in a row.

“It feels good. I guess I hit it good,” William said. “The technique that he taught me, I just learned from the best.”

Bill said he gets to see William about once a year. William is just starting to play golf and Bill is already an avid golfer, so Bill thought the Camp Villages event would be a great way to spend quality time with William and also meet other grandparents.

All Summer Long

Camp Villages provides intergenerational fun for Villages residents and their families. The program, sponsored by The Villages Recreation and Parks Department, hosts about 4,000 children, ranging in age from 3 to 16, each summer.

After being canceled last year due to COVID-19, this year’s summer program is scheduled to run through Aug. 6. Events through the summer range from arts and crafts to sports, educational shows and more. According to Recreation Manager of Lifestyle Events Lisa Parkyn and the Camp Villages website, nearly all events for Weeks 1-4 are full.

Registration for events in weeks 5-9 begins on June 22. To pick up a catalog or register for events in person, interested residents may visit any of the The Villages’ regional recreation complexes (Colony Cottage, La Hacienda, Paradise, Eisenhower, Lake Miona, Rohan, Everglades, Laurel Manor, Savannah, Fenney, Mulberry Grove or SeaBreeze) Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

To register on weekends, interested parties can visit only La Hacienda, Lake Miona, Eisenhower, Rohan and Everglades regional recreation complexes from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Residents can also register online, by visiting campvillages.com and clicking “Register Now” or visiting districtgov.org, clicking recreation in the departments tab, and clicking on Camp Villages.

Staff Writer Ryan Weiss can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5408, or ryan.weiss@thevillagesmedia.com.