Dale Balvin is more than a Professional Golf Association pro who has worked in top Arizona golf communities like Desert Mountain. He’s an avid golfer (and has been since he was 10 years old), a father, a teacher, a tournament manager and an entrepreneur who is showing Valley kids that golf’s elementary.
Golf’s Elementary was developed out of Dale’s passion for the sport and his recognition that learning athletics at a young age can translate into lifelong lessons and character traits. The local after school program started in 2006 within the Cave Creek School District. Now 10 years later, the program works with school districts, Boys and Girls Clubs, and private schools across the Phoenix area, introducing golf to over 300 kids each year.
The program’s main objective is to teach kids age 5 to 14 the game of golf. Kids learn the basics on school grounds where all equipment and instruction is provided. The program teaches driving, full swing, putting, chipping and pitching, plus other sport motions to keep the pacing up and help the kids understand the movements required in golf.
Many kids love the game so much that they continue on to more instruction programs like Arizona Junior Golf. The program also holds 10-week summer camps. In addition to teaching kids the game, Dale plans United States Golf Association (USGA) events for juniors. All the programs and tournaments combined are a great way to help golfers continue to learn, grow and hone in on their skills.
So what’s the secret to keeping kids involved and their passion for golf going strong? “Patience – a lot of it,” comments Dale. “You have to coach the kids, you have to coach the parents, that it’s going to take 10,000 swings basically for them to become a decent player. It’s not overnight.”
Dale definitely relies on his parenting perspective to help build and improve the program. As a father of three, he knows what he looks for in programs for his kids. Golf Elementary generally sees 20-25 kids on any given day, and the program maintains a six-to-one player-to-instructor ratio to make sure the kids are learning. “I don’t want to see kids rolling down the hill. I want to have a good quality product out there where they are getting benefits.”
Dale’s work has not gone unnoticed in the Arizona golf communities. Not only is the program highly regarded amongst parents and educators, but also among his golf pro peers. He kicked off 2017 by receiving the Southwest PGA Youth Player Development Award for his work with Golf’s Elementary. This is on top of several other golf instruction awards already on his mantel, such as several nods as a Top 50 US Kids Golf Teacher by US Kids Golf.
For Dale Balvin, golf is more than just a way to make a living or to spend an afternoon enjoying the beautiful Arizona golf weather. Golf is a way of life. And thanks to him, hundreds of Valley kids have been introduced to the positive lessons of the sport.
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