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Locals take Lessons
Blake Ollar graduated from Ceres High School in 2001.

Ollar, 28, has provided lessons as an instructor with the River Oaks Junior Golf Program the last three years.

"It's amazing to be able to teach kids where I grew up," said Ollar, a former student. "Hopefully, they keep playing."

Approximately 100 boys and girls, aged 5-17, signed up for the summer's first session, which got underway on June 5.

Cost was $30 for beginners, which paid for seven one-hour classes and free range balls Monday through Friday.

Cost was $50 for intermediates, which included seven lessons, range balls and free play on the front nine.

Cost was $75 for advanced (seven lessons, range balls and access to all 18 holes).

Classes are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"I'm teaching them the basics as far as grip, stance and learning how to swing a golf club," Ollar said. "This is the exact same stuff I was taught 19 years ago."

Eleven beginning golfers were enrolled in Ollar's morning class.

Turlock's Danielle Friedberg watched from nearby as her son Brandon (5) and nephew Joseph (6) worked on their swings at the driving range on June 12. The two cousins are new to the program. Brandon and Joseph had matching red Mohawks.

Danielle's husband took golf lessons from River Oaks veteran teaching pro Greg Silva when he was five years old.

"Shockingly, he (Brandon) likes it," Friedberg said. "My son was diagnosed with Autism. Blake has the patience to help him. He's an awesome instructor."

Accompanied by their mother Julie Cannella, Ceres siblings Caleb (10), Mackay (8) and Elise (8) took lessons together for the first time. Their father, California State Senator Anthony Cannella, plays a lot of golf in the Sacramento area.

"It was too good of a deal to pass up for a summer activity," Julie said. "The value of it is in the hundreds. I tried to add three friends to this. But it's full. They have to wait until the next session."

"I'm pretty familiar with golf because I watch it a lot," Caleb said. "It looks easy but it's not. You got to practice."

Ceres youngster Gregory Methvin (8) had fun and learned. He plans to take additional lessons in the future.

"It's affordable," said Gregory's mother Erica. "The instructors interact with the kids and know what they're talking about. He really likes it."

River Oaks will offer its second session of golf lessons, July 10-Aug. 1.

The Jr. Program was co-founded by Rob Phipps 19 years ago.

Brother Michael has filled in as general manager of the club since the death of his younger brother.

Rob passed away in December of 2007 from heart failure.