Planting seeds: Class helps break in Red Bridge Wee Links at Twin Oaks Golf Complex
EUDORA — Saturday’s golf lesson at Twin Oaks Golf Complex that was put on by The First Tee of Greater Kansas City had a different excitement to that of previous ones in the summer session.
The 13 youth golfers who participated in the lesson got the chance to test out the Red Bridge Wee Links — which is a new six-hole, 145-yard course — that opened on July 4 to replace the old artificial greens putt-putt course. Although there have been a few rounds played on the new addition to the Eudora complex over the past week and a half, the lesson for The First Tee class marked the first event that was held on the Red Bridge Wee Links.
“It was tremendous fun because it was a dream to build the Red Bridge Wee Links. Now having it there, it’s really exceeded what my expectations were,” Jeff Burey, a PGA professional and Twin Oaks Golf Complex owner, said. “The kids just really love it. They’re going to become really, really good players because of being able to master their short game.”
Prior to the kids getting their first crack on the new course, Burey and First Tee lead instructor Robert Sweeney briefly explained to them the process of creating the Red Bridge Wee Links. Rather than going into detail on how the irrigation system was put in or how the course was sodded, Sweeney stuck with a simple message that hit home with the kids.
“Every golf course begins by planting seeds. With those seeds, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Sweeney said at the beginning of the class. “You just hope that something is going to happen. The kind of seeds you put down really makes a difference. Jeff did a lot of research and he has a lifetime of experience, so he figured out what the best seeds are for a project like this.”
Sweeney saw several parallels with how the Red Bridge Wee Links came to fruition and how the youth golfers have been picking up ins and outs of the game.
“I’m really pleased with this new addition to the course. I think with learning the game of golf and teaching the game of golf that the concept of target awareness and distance control are such fundamental aspects of learning the game,” Sweeney said. “When you can shrink the course and make it manageable, you get the same effects of golf on a large course, but it’s attainable. I think it sets up an encouraging experience for the kids and I think that’s the most important thing is that they come away and they don’t feel overwhelmed and defeated.”
Charity Thompson was one of the youth golfers who got the chance to test out of the new course on Saturday. During the introduction of the class, Thompson showed off her medal from a recent drive, chip and putt competition she competed in. Thompson already had a grasp of Sweeney’s planting-the-seed concept from the drive, chip and putt competition since she thrived in two parts of it, but still had some work to do in order to get to her next goal.
“I’m getting really good. At the tournament, I got second place in driving and third place in chipping,” Thompson said. “You have to be in the top three to move on, but I finished in fourth place and missed it by one.”
Thompson was paired up with George Conover for The First Tee class’s round on the Red Bridge Wee Links. The highlight of Conover’s round was recording a birdie.
“I really liked it just because it was challenging even though it was so short,” Conover said. “It’s hard to control it and make it go on those small greens.”
Tyce Bruns watched his son, Grady Bruns, hit the links with his First Tee classmates on Saturday. Tyce had nothing but rave reviews about the Red Bridge Wee Links and Twin Oaks in general, and had plenty of praise for how Burey and Sweeney have developed Grady’s golf game.
“It’s a great atmosphere for families and for kids just to get out and learn the game of golf. It’s great,” Tyce said. “I could leave him out here for four hours and he’d be fine with it. It’s wonderful.”
Tyce added, “We hadn’t had any exposure to any type of golf lessons, golf tournaments or anything organized, and Jeff is just great with kids. When we came out here the first time, we knew he was a pretty special guy and we took lessons. He’s amazing and he’s taken my kid to the next level, so it’s wonderful here.”
Burey lent a helping hand to the kids on a few practice shots before stepping back and smiling while they hit for themselves. Patience is a trait that Burey has emphasized a lot during lessons over the years. The golf pro admitted that he has needed to preach some patience to himself while watching the seeds on the Red Bridge Wee Links grow.
“The main thing is for it to mature because it’s brand new and it’s in a rough state right now with all of this heat. In the long range, it would be great for birthday parties, family outings, little pee-wee and junior tournaments or this First Tee program,” Burey said. “It’s kind of unlimited. We do a family pass program where the family can play. At this day and age, there aren’t a whole lot of things that the family can do together. They can come out and play this. This by definition is real miniature golf — golf at a miniature scale, not putt-putt. It’s miniature golf.”