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River Oaks Junior Golf striving to experience a rebirth
Volunteer instructor Ben Johannes of Ceres worked with So You Are New To Golf (SNAG) students, including Denairs Reed Cornell, during the first session of the River Oaks Jr. Program last summer. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

In its heyday, the River Oaks Junior Golf Program drew more than 300 participants each summer.

Enrollment has dropped significantly over the years for various reasons.

Veteran teaching pro Greg Silva believes the program will experience a rebirth.

"We want to make it great again," he said.

The River Oaks Junior Golf Program is open to boys and girls, ages 5-17.

The first session will be staged June 7 to June 29.
The second session will run, July 12 to Aug. 3.

Cost is $30 for So You Are New To Golf (SNAG) participants. Youngsters (5-7) use lightweight golf clubs with over-sized heads and larger golf balls. They focus on coordination, balance and accuracy during Tuesday and Thursday night classes.

Cost is $45 for beginners, which pays for seven one-hour classes and free range balls Monday through Friday.

Cost is $65 for intermediates, which includes seven lessons, range balls and free play on the front nine.

Cost is $85 for advanced (seven lessons, range balls and access to all 18 holes).

"Our fees are a lot lower than everyone else's because we go out and get sponsors," Silva said. "For the money, we got the best program around. We got great instructors. It's a great deal."

Rob Phipps established the River Oaks Jr. Golf Program with assistance from Silva. Rob was the club's general manager until he passed away unexpectedly at the age of 44 in 2007.

More than 6,000 area youth have been introduced to the sport of golf through their creation.

"We started it 23 years ago," Silva said. "Between me and Rob, we made it what it was. We're going to build it back up to where it was and make it even better. It's going to take some time. You give it a couple years. We've been doing a lot of promoting on social media. I'm always posting stuff on my Facebook page."

For more information about the River Oaks Junior Program, contact Silva at 667-7272.