Kids learning the game of golf - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Kids learning the game of golf

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Oxmoor Valley's Director of Instruction Neil Thompson runs a kids camp that might be a little different from other golf camps you've heard about. Thompson gives us his take on how much natural ability matters to start off this week's Youth Sports Spotlight.

"If that's the case, natural ability, then why isn't Jack Nicklaus' son not better than Jack Nicklaus if it's inherent?" Thompson said. "I think it's just there's an environment and you succeed in a certain environment. I think your parents are a huge influence on that. Your parents are a great role model. You can see it from a mile off when a kid comes for the first time. You can see they're going to be a good golfer pretty soon."

Thompson says it's clear kids spend too much time at the driving range.

"They do hit too many balls," Thompson said. "They don't play enough. Golf is a random practice. It's a random game. What they see is block practice all the time, hitting ball, after ball, after ball, after ball. It's not necessarily the best way. What you've got to do is try to randomize the practice to make the practice similar to playing. That's what they do in other sports and we don't do a very good job of it in golf."

"For instance, the short game," Thompson said. "Bending over, hitting a short putt day, after day, after day, hour after hour, it's not necessarily going to make you a better putter. It's going to give you a bad back. It might get you better over time but there's better ways to do it, I'm sure."

And Thompson's camp is getting great reviews from at least one camper.

"I love coming out here," camper Jacob Hillman said. "I think that's all because of Neil when I started last year. I think that's why I enjoy it so much."

"He's just an excellent golf instructor," Hillman said. "He's very tolerant of everything, even if you're not necessarily even that great. He'll fix you up right away."

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