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Youth on Course giving Ontario kids a shot at golf

Youth on Course giving Ontario kids a shot at golf
WATCH: There aren't many options for kids to be active and play sports right now because of pandemic restrictions. But a new program is making golf more accessible for families across the province. Aaron Streck has more.

There aren’t many options for kids to be active and play sports right now because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions. But a new program is making golf more accessible for families across the province.

James Dixon might hit the links five times in a given summer, but the 12-year-old has already surpassed that mark this year.

“I’ve been going two nines every week,” said Dixon.

Since Dixon’s baseball season was cancelled because of COVID-19, it’s allowed him to not only get out more to golf but also focus on lowering his score.

“It takes a long time to do that. I try my best but sometimes I can’t do that and then sometimes I have bad days,” said Dixon.

Dixon’s mom, Corrie Dixon, says her son enjoys his time spent golfing.

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“He just comes home pumped up. He’s talking about his shots and what he can improve, he’s going to the driving range; he’s really found his love and passion for golf,” she said.

Read more: Coronavirus — Durham Region student-athletes, coaches react to cancelled fall competition

It only costs Dixon’s mom $5 each time out as part of a new program launched last week called Youth on Course, which gives kids ages 6 to 18 across Ontario access to the game at an affordable rate.

“Alberta had great success with it last year. They had over 300 new junior members, at least three rounds of golf each. We were already considering it, and then with COVID, the environment we’re in, it was kind of a no-brainer,” said Jessie Mercer with Golf Ontario.

So far, 17 courses in Ontario are on board with the program, including a handful in Durham Region. Those looking to expand the game are hoping to see those numbers grow throughout the summer.

Read more: Durham Region driving schools await approval to reopen — ‘They’re going to be hurting’

“We’re seeing new golfers to the game, which is what everybody wants,” said Ryan Starr, Eldorado Golf Club and Lakeridge Links Golf Club director.

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Starr says the experience is about more than putting a ball.

“The miss for kids right now is that social aspect, and if they can have that opportunity to be on the golf course for a couple of hours with friends, provided they’re social distancing and things like that, it’s absolutely huge for them,” said Starr.