University City

Homeschoolers hit the course in Paradise Valley

As a homeschool parent, Amy Parrish takes her daily schedule seriously. Monday through Friday, she starts her son Cameron's school day between 8:30 and 9 a.m., teaching him core subjects.

So when she heard about a golf program offered at Paradise Valley Par 3 Golf Course for homeschool students on Thursday mornings, Parrish felt it could disrupt Cameron's routine.

"I kind of hate to give up a whole morning to go play golf," she said.

Parrish reconsidered after attending a homeschool conference where speakers stressed the importance of exercise and physical activity. Cameron's now playing his third season of homeschool golf and enjoying every stroke.

On Thursday, Paradise Valley will conclude the fall season with a tournament and cookout for its 15 or so players. Cameron, 13, finished second in the tournament that concluded a summer camp at Paradise Valley and is looking forward to another opportunity to place among the leaders.

General Manager Butch Clinckscales says the homeschool program is a spin-off from a similar program Paradise Valley conducts with the Mallard Creek Optimist Club. Around 3-4 years ago, a homeschool parent posed the idea to Clinckscales, who felt that a morning program would fit snuggly in the course's schedule.

"We're opposite of a regular golf course," said Clinckscales. "Because you can play (18 holes) in two hours, we're more busy in the afternoon as opposed to in the morning."

Players can sign up for an eight-week session for $65. It includes a weekly 18-hole round, season-ending trophies, and the cookout. If the Thursday morning scheduled round gets rained out, players can make it up throughout the week.

A course pro provides weekly instruction and walks the course with the players, offering tips during play.

Cameron Parrish, who lives in the Wellington neighborhood, has been playing golf off an on for 4-5 years. He started with the homeschool group last fall, shooting an 18-hole round in the low 100s.

Last spring, Cameron worked his stroke average into the mid 90s, and by summer time it was getting close to the 80s.

His handicap was more than just his golf score. It was playing with a set of junior golf clubs that he had already outgrown.

His bag was also missing a couple key clubs that are important to par-3 play: a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. To compensate, he used a 7-iron for his approach shots.

Last month, his parents, Amy and Steven, gave him a new set of clubs for his birthday.

Twelve-year old Highland Creek resident Caleb Lopresto also has new clubs, the set handed down to him by his father, Bob.

They must be helping. In his third year at Paradise Valley, Caleb shot a personal best 86 in one of the early sessions this Fall.

"I would say my accuracy is a little bit better than it was," said Caleb. "My swing is better, and probably my putting."

Caleb and Michael Merrill, a homeschool student from Concord, consider the golf program to be their weekly dose of physical education.

"He definitely has to get PE, so he has to be involved in some kind of sport," said Diana Merrill, Michael's mom. "So walking the 18 holes is really great."