Lawton native returns to roots to make golf fun, accessible for all kids | Sports

Growing up across the street from Lawton Country Club, Bobby Taylor wanted nothing more to just step foot on the lush grass of the golf course. But his family didn’t have the means to join a country club, perpetuating the stereotype of elitism often associated with the sport.“I would walk up from Country Club Heights and dream about playing,” Taylor said. “And Johnny Wilson, David Frost, John Kitchens, they gave me that opportunity. They got my mind off the streets and on the course.”Now, Taylor does what he can to give back to children who might be in the same shoes he was decades ago. He also wants to make sure children not only see the competitive side of golf, but see the fun and laid-back side of the game. All those factors are part of the inspiration behind Taylor’s OKJuniorGolf program, a youth golf camp of sorts Taylor started in Norman several years ago and one he has brought back to his hometown of Lawton this year.The retired military veteran and Lawton High grad calls golf “the best thing to ever happen to me,” and started OKJuniorGolf while living in Norman six years ago at Cobblestone Creek. Having recently moved back to Lawton, Taylor calls the program his “gift to Lawton”.Held at both Lawton Country Club and Fort Sill Golf Course, Taylor works with children ages of 5 and 14 twice a week. There, they use easy-to-understand lessons, techniques and games to learn the basics of golf. He uses his patented CUBE method (Confidence, Understand, Believe, Evaluate), as well as things like a golf version of Tic-Tac-Toe, with children putting their ball into a marked area, an exercise meant to teach club speed control.“The thing is, they’re having fun and don’t even know they’re practicing,” Taylor said.But getting better at golf is just the tip of the iceberg for what Taylor hopes the kids get out of the program. Sure, he would love for each of them to go on and play at the high school and even college levels. But more importantly, he wants them to learn life skills, like communication.“I always say golf is like the original Facebook,” Taylor said. “You’re going to network, you’re going to meet people who can help you.”Even before COVID-19 changed the way people around the world were able to congregate, social interaction was already a concern for some parents who were tired of their children glued to screens majority of the time. And while team sports were somewhat slow to start back up amid concerns of spreading germs, golf became a sport some parents were able to feel more comfortable with. But despite golf being an individual sport in nature, OKJuniorGolf encourages communication and interaction.Nearly all of the young golfers have some sort of golfing background in the family. For Liz Ware, whose children Tristan and Bella Codynah participate in the program, her grandfather golfed as much as possible, and now her kids look forward to their twice-a-week sessions. Meanwhile, 9-year-old camper Jacobi Tenequer was around the sport constantly as his older sister, former Eisenhower standout Gracie Trogdon, is now playing college golf at Tabor College in Kansas. That didn’t necessarily lead to Jacobi catching the golf bug. The camaraderie he’s built with other golfers through Taylor’s program just might have changed that.“He’s never really had an interest in golf,” Jacobi’s mother Roxie said. “But he found out a friend was doing this and he decided he’d do it. Now, like tonight, he’s asking who all is going to be there.”While Jacobi might not have had much of a background in golf, others at program have had golf in their lives for a long time. Oggy Nash Jr. is just 5 years old, but his father, Major Oggy Nash, is a lifelong golfer and said Oggy Jr. has been “holding a golf club since he could walk”. Even though his son has gravitated toward the sport, Major Nash said he wants to make sure he doesn’t push the issue too much.“Our rules for golf are number 1, have fun. That’s why he loves what Coach Taylor does. He comes out here, he’s with his teammates and he’s having fun,” Nash said. “Our second rule is have a good attitude, and Coach Taylor does and great job as far as keeping that in perspective, understanding it directly feeds the fun component.”Helping Taylor are several local high schoolers who volunteer as coaches for the children. Lawton High golfers Terrell Buckley and Zachary Siaca, as well as Elgin’s Hallye Bolan, not only get to pass down the game they love, they also then receive tips and lessons from Taylor after practice.“You’re working with kids, doing things you like to do, at a nice course and they’re learning nice, simplistic games that actually teach you a lot about golf, Siaca said.Taylor would love for his current golfers to become future high school and college golfers, but in the meantime, mostly just wants to promote a fun, friendly atmosphere.“I want to see them playing tournament golf, I want to see them playing middle school golf, whatever they decide to do,” Taylor said. “I want them to be part of the community and not just look at their phones all day.”

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