- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

CARTHAGE, Ill. (AP) - Suzan Stott remembers golfing with her mom and grandma.

It was a one-time event.

“I shot a really good drive, then it took me about 20 to get it in the hole. They said never again,” Stott said. “They refused to take me out unless I know how to play.”

Hoping for another round, Stott signed up for “boot camp” offered by the Carthage Golf Club Women’s League.

Tuesday night sessions in April teach some basics, like putting and chipping, and pair new golfers with more seasoned veterans of the nine-hole public course in Carthage.

“We just want to help girls who really want to learn to play golf,” said Laura Carle, a veteran golfer who leads the sessions. “We help them get started. Maybe, in turn, they can help someone else learn to play golf.”

Ruth Kinnamon of Carthage wanted to learn all she could about the game.

“I wanted a little entertainment in my life, and I figured that probably I needed a little instruction before I started my entertainment,” Kinnamon said. With a session on putting, “I learned a lot. I have golfed, but never on a league.”

The golf club may pick up a few new members, but even more important, Carle said, the lessons spur interest in a sport that can be played at any age.

“I’m 79 years old. I still love to play golf,” said Carle, a 14-time club champion who has posted three holes-in-one. “I thought I would ‘pay it forward’ — teach somebody, show them how much fun it can be. We just thought this would be a way for more people to play.”

Last week’s session focused on chipping, with a handful of golfers trying to loft balls onto the putting green.

Lining up a shot, Carle explained the right approach to Stott.

“You’re going to clip the grass right under the ball,” Carle said, then watched Stott swing the club. “That’s the way.”

Carle offered tips and encouragement to the golfers.

“Choke down on your club, Ruth. Try to relax,” Carle said. “Not so hard Suzy. That’s much better.”

Stott even got some chipping advice from her grandma, Carole Bower, who has golfed since high school.

“You’re not trying to get it in the hole. Get it three feet from the hole,” Bower said.

The golf may be fun, but the friendships on the course and in the league are just as important.

“You always have to go out afterward,” boot camp participant Suzy Neally said. “That’s the best part, the social part.”

Golfers from across the tri-state area were welcome at the boot camp, which offered clubs for new golfers to borrow. The sport, and professional lessons, can be expensive, but “you can pick up inexpensive clubs. Use those clubs, and if you get good and like it, invest in a good set of clubs. If it’s just a pastime, to play occasionally, those clubs will be just fine,” Carle said.

Cindy Brackelsburg, a boot camp participant from Keokuk, Iowa, hasn’t golfed for very long and liked the tips Carle provided.

“Watch the club hit the ball,” Carle said. “Most everybody wants to peek, to look up. They do it on the drive, on the fairway, but after a while you get so you can just tell.”

Carle took up golf 40 years ago as a way to counter stress from working and raising a family.

“I’d just slip out there and play nine holes of golf. It was so relaxed, so rewarding,” she said. “Even if I shot bad, I still have a good feeling of being outside and part of nature.”

The sense of competition also kept her involved in the sport.

“It’s a game you work at, practice,” Carle said. “Everybody likes to win. If I don’t win, that’s fine, too. There’s always another day.”

Carle plays bridge all winter and golfs all summer.

“You don’t have to be good at it to still enjoy it,” Carle said.

“I don’t know about that,” said Jan Fleming, who just retired and hopes to spend more time golfing.

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Online: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://bit.ly/1jECvEH

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://www.whig.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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