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story.lead_photo.caption Rick Peck/Special to McDonald County Press Michael Laymon, 13, of Bushton, Kan., hits a shot at the Elk River Golf Course while visiting his grandmother in Noel last week.

It has been well documented that the popularity of golf has steadily declined since 2006 -- not only nationally but locally as the number of players has dropped significantly over the last 15 years.

In an effort to stem the tide, the Elk River Golf Course in Noel is beginning a new program for youth golfers that will allow kids up to the age of 17 to play for free on Mondays.

"Of course, we are trying to get more members for the future," said Jimmy Stauber, newly-elected board member. "But the main thing is we are trying to expand the game of golf in McDonald County. This is the only golf course in McDonald County, and we want people to think it belongs to everybody."

Stauber said the new program allows anyone under the age of 17 to play for free on Mondays, beginning at 2 p.m. until close.

He said kids 10 and under need to be accompanied by a parent, who can play for $15, including cart. Carts for youth with a driver's license will be available for $7.50.

Stauber said that, in the past, the McDonald County High School golf team has been very successful with several players earning college scholarships.

"We are trying to get more people interested in the game," Stauber said. "We want them to be able to play and become better players and maybe get a scholarship. This course has had the Meador boys (Steven and Bryan), David Collins, Kirk Allman and Jack Pew, to name a few. We just haven't had any lately. We had some early, but we haven't had a scholarship player from the golf team for a long time."

The introduction of a girls' golf team at MCHS will begin this fall, exposing more youth to the game, with scholarships possibilities.

"Hopefully the kids will take advantage of this and get better," Stauber said. "The school helped us out with some money for chemicals for letting them play for free during the golf season, so maybe this will help the golf teams."

Stauber said the golf course also has some special events for all ages and skill levels.

He said that, on Tuesday and Thursdays, a senior league begins at 9 a.m. each day. The format changes each day with either a scramble, shamble or the best nine scores out of 18 holes of each of four team members.

A shamble is where everybody hits a drive, and then you can choose any drive to complete the hole on your own.

Teams are divided as evenly as possible and change each day.

"Any senior who wants to play would be welcomed," Stauber said. "We are flexible on the age. If you are 50 and retired, come on out."

He said that, on Wednesday evenings, the course hosts the WWGA (World's Worst Golfers Association).

"For a fun time on Wednesday evening, come on down," Stauber said. "It's just $15 for green fees and a cart. It's a scramble format and you could be matched up with anybody. It's usually a good time."

The Elk River Golf Course was established in the mid-1960s. It's a nine-hole, par 36 layout stretching to 3,354 yards from the "tips." The senior tee yardage is 3,094, while it measures 2,724 from the ladies' tees.

Memberships run $640 annually ($160) every three months for a family and $460 ($115 every three months) for an individual. Junior memberships are just $135 per year.

"The course has been here a long time and we want to keep it," Stauber said. "We want everybody in McDonald County to feel welcome to come down here and play golf. We aren't a bunch of snobs."

Sports on 06/28/2018

Print Headline: Noel Initiating New Youth Golf Program

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