Golf Gazette: Cedars kids kept busy over the summer

The Cedars Golf Club professional Jimmy McLaughlin with two members of the Cedars Kids Club, Aiko Fujita, left, and Michael Wineberger. (Credit: Jay Dempsey)
The Cedars Golf Club professional Jimmy McLaughlin with two members of the Cedars Kids Club, Aiko Fujita, left, and Michael Wineberger. (Credit: Jay Dempsey)

Conversation overheard this past summer around the North Fork:

Matilda, age 10: “I’m so bored this summer. There’s nothing to do around here.”

Gus, age 12: “I know. All we ever do is go to the beach, go boating, swim, fish and go sailing.”

Clancy, age 11: “ I can’t wait to go back to school.”

Say what??!! 

Mind you, not every young person on the North Fork was bored this summer. For many, their days were spent honing their golf skills at Cedars Golf Club.

A few dozen youngsters spent the summer at the Cedars Kids Club, which was held weekly during July and August at the Cutchogue course. These future stars of the links, under the direction of Cedars professional Jimmy McLaughlin, worked on all areas of the golf game, which included not only how to hit a golf ball long and straight, but also the rules and etiquette of the sport.

“When you get the kids at a young age you can teach them not only skills, but golf etiquette and how to conduct themselves on the course,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin, a certified US Kids Instructor, began playing golf as a youngster at Cedars with his father and grandfather while summering on the North Fork. His love of the game led him to caddying at Hempstead Country Club and then on to play college golf for Nassau County Community College and SUNY/Farmingdale. After college, he returned to Hempstead Country Club, where he became a starter and then moved on to become an assistant pro. McLaughlin became the head professional at Cedars this year.

“I like to draw pictures for the younger kids to show them the proper techniques, whereas with the older kids you can do more verbal instruction,” said McLaughlin.

In addition to McLaughlin, the camp instructors included Brendan Kent, Alex Burns and Andrew Schwartz. Kent, 15, is a member of the Mattituck High School boys golf team and worked at Cedars throughout the summer. “I’ve been playing golf since I was five years old,” Kent said. “It’s a lot of fun teaching little kids and the next generation of golfers the game.” A highlight each day at the camp was the arrival of the four or five pizzas that the golfers devoured for lunch. After refueling and a short break, it was back to work with the kids breaking up into small groups and working on different parts of the game.

Colin McCarthy, 13, of Southold attended the camp for four weeks and had this to say about his experience: “I learned that golf is a game that you’re not playing against others, but that you play against yourself.” He continued: “Golf is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. I now have a better understanding of the overall game. I improved my swing and learned that patience is such an important part of golf.”

The first year of the Cedars Kids Club was a great success, according to McLaughlin. “We had over 50 kids and had a great time,” he said. “It was nice to see the improvements in the players’ games as the weeks went on. It was also great to see the parents noticing the improvements, from gripping the club to getting the ball in the air.”

The campers, in addition to their time on the course and the practice area, got to use the indoor golf simulator. McLaughlin said he plans to have an after-school program this winter using the simulator with three or four students per session getting private instruction.

McLaughlin said, “There is no better place for youngsters to learn the game of golf then here at Cedars.”