Schooling the youngsters
Teaching juniors is Martin's passion and now he'll supervise
the VCJGA Academy
By Bob Buttitta, bbuttitta@VenturaCountyStar.com
November 26, 2003
Over the last few years, Dan Martin has helped hundreds of
junior golfers learn the game of golf as the director of instruction
for the Nike Golf Learning Center at Simi Hills Golf Course.
Martin patterned the junior program
after a martial arts program. Instead of participants moving
up in belt rank, each time a golfer learned a new skill, he
or she earned a different colored bag tag.
When they demonstrated they had mastered a skill, players
Now it's Martin who is moving up, having
accepted the position as Rustic Canyon Golf Course's director
In addition, Martin has agreed to become
the Ventura County Junior Golf Association's director of instruction.
He will supervise the newly formed Ventura County Junior Golf
The VCJGA Academy intertwines etiquette
and character development in a multitiered program designed
to fully develop the junior golfers' knowledge, skills and playing
Starting in February 2004, the VCJGA
Academy will be a year-round program, offering instruction to
new and intermediate golfers at Rustic Canyon, Sterling Hills,
Saticoy Regional and River Ridge.
Martin has developed a strong reputation
for developing innovative golf programs for kids.
Martin is co-creator of the Nike Golf
Learning Center Junior Academy, which is utilized at more than
80 facilities throughout the nation.
"I'm excited about this new opportunity,"
Martin said. "I got involved with VCJGA in the last year, and
since that time Sean (Farnan, VCJGA executive director) and
I have talked about the possibility of starting a junior academy
to give the VCJGA an instructional component to go along with
their competitive play that it offers.
"The program will be very similar to
the one we have established here at Simi Hills, but it will
feature a few more levels, especially in the beginning areas."
Sally Quinlan, assistant director at
VCJGA, said it is excited to add Martin to the organization.
"... We are very excited to have his
expertise and energy as we introduce a world class junior golf
academy to the youngsters of Ventura County at four strategic
sites," Quinlan said.
"Dan brings a wealth of knowledge from
his past experiences of creating a curriculum for a successful
national junior golf program, as well as the day-to-day operation
of running one year round. He is a natural teacher, and the
kids are drawn to him."
The academy will be geared toward players
ages 6 to 17. Participants will take two 30-minute classes per
week and also have another hour of practice time available to
Martin has used the 30-minute lesson
format at Simi Hills. He said it's been very effective.
"We mix it up so the kids don't get
bored," Martin said. "They get a lot of repetition in a short
amount of time and I have found that kids learn very fast under
"At the lower levels it will be easier
to advance to the next level, but as the player gets more advanced,
it will take more skill to move up."
Martin said his goal is to create a
feeder system that will allow a child to go from virtual beginner
to having the ability to play in competitive VCJGA events if
they choose to stay in the program.
Cost will start at $49 a month and go
up from there.
Martin is also helping design an academy
Web page that will have several components, including instruction
"The entire curriculum will be on the
Web page, so players will know what they need to master at every
level," Martin said.
When Martin agreed to take on the responsibility
of developing the academy, he needed to find another course
at which to teach, and Rustic Canyon was happy to get him.
As director of instruction, Martin will
be introducing instructional programs at Rustic Canyon such
as a class on breaking 100 and 90, beginning golfer programs
for men and women, and other "transition to play" programs.
"We are very excited to have Dan on
board," said Mark Wipf, director of golf at Rustic Canyon.
"He brings with him a high level of
expertise and enthusiasm."
Martin said the toughest part was leaving
"I have enjoyed my time here," Martin
said. "I'm proud of the work we have done here and the program
we have developed.
"The program is in good hands, and I
feel good about that. I'm excited about this opportunity at
both Rustic Canyon and the VCJGA.
"I love teaching golf, but I especially
love working with and teaching juniors."
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