Salisbury golfer giving back

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 24, 2009

By Bret Strelow
Catherine Parks, a rising senior at Salisbury High School and captain of the girls golf team, started playing only three years ago.
The camp Parks is currently directing has provided area children with earlier exposure to the sport.
Working in conjunction with nearby Gethsemane Baptist Church’s summer outreach program, Parks and other teenaged instructors have been leading a “Golf Week” at Salisbury High’s softball field.
The last of four two-hour sessions, attended by 15 kids in grades three through six, is scheduled for this afternoon.
“You never really know how kids will react and you can’t predict if kids will have fun, but seeing kids joking around and hitting the ball so well is exciting,” Parks said. “You’d be at the full-swing station and hear screams erupt on the other side of the field because somebody made a putt.”
Parks picked up the game in 2006 so she could play alongside her father, and she shot 62 in her first nine-hole event. She’s developed into a standout on one of the state’s top prep teams.
Children with little or no golf experience are learning how to swing, chip and putt from Parks, her younger brother Chuck, Madison Kennedy, Clark Alcorn, Zack Kirchin, Johnny Kyger, Tyler Bost and Wade Butner.
Parks, who has been assisting Jay Reid at the Dana Rader Golf School in Statesville as part of her graduation project, wanted to branch out and oversee something of her own.”I like working with kids, and I know how much I love golf,” Parks said. “I just started my freshman year, but it’s a huge part of my life.”
Ruby Steele, Salisbury High’s guidance counselor, is a Gethsemane member who suggested the idea of working with the church’s summer program.
The camp, made possible by donations from within the community, started Monday. Corbin Hills, for instance, is allowing Parks to use some of the club’s hitting mats. The children swing at plastic golf balls during non-putting drills.
“Monday went so much better than I could have anticipated,” Parks said. “Sometimes when you look at golf, kids might not think it’s the most exciting thing. We had stations and made games out of it, and they were all swinging great for kids who had never picked up a club.”
The participants are separated into three groups ó Aces, Eagles and Birdies ó and a child earns a star for winning a game. Stars accumulate and can be redeemed for prizes.
Guillermo Solano, 9, and Kevin Cabrera, 8, took turns sinking putts Wednesday, but there’s variety to the schedule of activities. A relay race preceded a golf-themed game of Duck, Duck, Goose later that afternoon, with “Par” and “Birdie” replacing “Duck” and “Goose.”
Parks appeared to be having as much fun as anyone.
“The kids are great,” she said. “They’re so well-mannered, saying please and thank you. Kids can get excited and forget those things sometimes, but these kids have been great.”