With a goal of getting kids off their computer screens and into the outdoors, the Lincoln County School District launched a new golf program designed to give students a break from their homework.

Since the onset of the pandemic, many students have been wondering when they can get back to sports. It’s a question that Taft 7-12 athletic director Matt Hilgers said he is asked almost daily.

“We just started workouts on the field for other sports, and they’re always asking me when they can get back to playing,” Hilgers said. They’re really missing sports… and so are the adults.”

The school district sifted through several ideas of how they can provide activities for students, while staying safe during the ongoing pandemic. They then turned to golf.

Five local golf courses, including Chinook Winds Golf Resort and Salishan Golf Links, agreed to open their courses to students during designated times for limited in person instruction. For students in grades 7-12, they can sign up and play for free.

“We had been looking for things for kids to do other than just sitting at a computer all day and some of the other stuff we couldn’t make happen, but we were able to make this happen,” Hilgers said.

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Taft 7-12 had about 15 students sign up for the program, which is considered a club activity that does not require a physical examination. Before students joined the program, they complete an online video and quiz about golf etiquette and rules. At the course, coaches and volunteers provide some instruction.

"Some have played before, some have never played at all, but it’s really about having fun,” Hilgers said. “I think it’s giving them something to do outside of the house.”

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Taft 7-12 will be taking advantage of Chinook Winds’ indoor driving range, as well as Salishan’s outdoor driving range when the weather permits it. The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) also donated dozens of golf balls to Lincoln County, and local volunteers have donated several sets of clubs for kids who might need them.

As OSAA has prevented all schools from allowing students to use their facilities or equipment, Hilgers said kids have been looking for ways to participate in activities. Unfortunately, options are sparse on the coast.

“We’re in a tough spot because there is not much around us,” Hilgers said. “In the valley, they have clubs all over that kids can participate in, but that’s not an option for most kids here. Over the next few weeks I think we’ll start to get more kids out here.”

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