Carson Valley puts kids on par with parents |

Carson Valley puts kids on par with parents

Steve Yingling

Historically, parents didn’t even consider inviting their children to join them at an 18-hole golf course.

It just didn’t work. The kids were too loud, couldn’t hit the ball far and straight enough and they didn’t move fast enough.

Carson Valley Golf Course in Gardnerville thought otherwise when it started a family tees program last spring.

Following the lead of U.S. Kids Golf, Carson Valley owner and general manager Tom Brooks decided to start a family friendly golf course. The concept provides two sets of forward tees, enabling junior players ages 5-17 to have a more enjoyable experience as they match shots with their parents.

As a bonus it only costs a family of four $25 to play nine holes after 5 p.m., seven days a week. A teaching pro is available Thursday through Saturday on the back nine and driving range to help the youngsters.

“We have just had a huge success,” Brooks said. “Because golf was really booming in the ’80s we didn’t really bother courting the next generation and teach them to play golf.”

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When Brooks bought the 6,020-yard, par-71 spread from his parents in 2002 he was determined to find a niche for his business in a very competitive market.

“There are a lot of big-name courses at a $100 a head. That’s not our course. We’re not even going to try and go there,” Brooks said. “Our aim is to get families and kids here and teach them the game. This is the perfect course for them to do that because you can walk, you can ride (in a cart) and you can play nine holes if you want.

“It just suits the course. We didn’t have to reinvent it; it was here.”

The forward tees are available on the 10th through 18th holes and construction is currently being done to make them available this fall on the entire front nine.

Kelly Kite of Gardnerville has taken his ever-ready grandchildren Brett and Alex McCaskill and Nickolas Hennesey out four or five times this summer and they have enjoyed their experiences.

“When grandpa is getting tired they want to keep going,” Kite said. “It’s surprising when they start so young how quickly they adapt. Us old codgers took years to develop swings, and after four or five times they are launching it out there. I equate it to learning how to use a computer or skating. They pick it up so quickly.”

The junior friendly green and yellow tees afford a significant reduction in yardage totals. From the yellow tees, children are playing a maximum of 1,657 yards and from the green only 900.

At first, some proud youngsters are resistant to teeing up their ball from somewhere where mom and dad aren’t: “I don’t want to do that. I want to play normal,” one junior said before trying it for the first time recently. But after only losing to his dad by eight strokes instead of 30, he was already looking forward to the family’s next golf outing.

Brooks has ascertained that the juniors have the right clubs in their hands as well. Junior-sized putters and wedges are provided to the younger players and drivers are available to the older juniors. The course also carries the latest U.S. Kids Golf clubs, apparel and accessories.

“We applaud Carson Valley’s commitment to help kids develop their games and make it easier for families to enjoy time together on the golf course,” said Dan Van Horn, founder and president for U.S. Kids Golf. “When a course is fun to play, families will come to play together and they’ll keep coming back.”

For more information about the new program or other junior golf programs at the course, phone (775) 265-3181.