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Additional links for vacationing families Golf: Inspired by Tiger Woods, perhaps, or by the game itself, more youngsters are teeing off at camps, clinics and resorts.

Move over, Tiger. Sara is ready to tee off. So are Jason, Matt, Jennifer and Annie. At least on vacation.

More Tiger Woods wannabes, some barely out of kindergarten, are out whacking the ball with Mom and Dad on courses from New England to South Carolina, Georgia to Colorado to California, resort golf pros say.

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They're asking retailers for junior clubs, shoes and other golf gear in their size.

"It's so much fun to play golf with my parents because I always beat them," jokes 15-year-old Sara Compton, who was taken on her first golf vacation at age 9 as a reward for a good report card.

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Compton now is an Alabama junior champion and still wouldn't miss her family's trips to the Cloister's Georgia courses.

Nike, meanwhile, reports such interest in their three-day, parent-child golf camps, despite the $1,000-plus tab, that they've expanded from two to 15 this season.

"We already have more than 250 customers enrolled, and we expect another couple of hundred to sign up before the summer," says Nike Sports Camp spokesman Steve Pense.

Call 1-800-NIKE-CAMPS for a schedule.

"Maybe busy parents feel less guilty about playing golf on vacation when they take a child along," suggests Gus Colachis, a senior hotel executive. Colachis' firm oversees three California resorts, including the family-friendly Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, where kids up to age 16 golf free with an adult. Kids eat for half-price at the resort, too.

Call 800-542-6096.

"Absolutely we're seeing more families on the golf course," he adds.

Around the country, nearly 2 million juniors (age 12-17), the vast majority boys, are now active golfers, the National Golf Foundation reports. There's growing interest in the inner city as well as in the manicured suburbs.

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"The phones are ringing off the hook at our urban youth programs," says Betsy Clarke, the LPGA's director of education. Though access to courses remains an issue -- as does cost -- parents say they encourage golf because not only can their children play it all their lives, but they also might learn a few lessons about etiquette and courtesy in the bargain.

Minneapolis lawyers Cynthia Rosenblatt and Burt Ross add that their golfing vacations with Rosenblatt's 16-year-old son, Harte, have helped them to forge new bonds as a blended family as well as to breach the great teen-age divide. "Golf is an OK thing to do for a kid who doesn't want to hang out with his parents," explains Rosenblatt.

Of course there may be some parents who have a different

agenda, even on vacation.

"I'm seeing Little League dads pushing their kids in the direction of golf," acknowledges Jim Herre, who directs Sports Illustrated's golf coverage.

The pros warn, however, that no matter how motivated the parents, kids won't be successful at golf unless they want to play.

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"Listen to your child," suggests the LPGA's Clark. "He has the answer. Take him to a golf clinic, but wait and let him tell you if he wants to go again."

Resorts, meanwhile, are eager to do all they can to at least introduce youngsters to the suddenly hip sport by offering an ever-growing array of golf packages, clinics and reduced or free greens fees for junior players.

"They're the future of our game," explains John Easterbrook, Hyatt Resorts director of golf.

To that end, Easterbrook just has initiated a program to enable kids 8-17 to golf free at 14 Hyatt Resorts this summer from Hilton Head and Orlando to Maui.

Call 1-800-4-GOLF-RES and ask about free family clinics around the country. Hyatt Resorts also permit families to book a second room for children at half price.

"Golf isn't for old guys anymore," Easterbrook says firmly.

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Among the other places to get that message across to your kids this summer:

Free junior clinics (for ages 7 and up) are offered daily at the Golf Digest Learning Center of the Cloister in Sea Island, Ga., during the hotel's summer family festival July 6-Sept. 1. Those up to age 19 play golf free while younger siblings are busy in Sea Island Summer Camp. During the family festival, children up to age 19 eat and stay free when sharing accommodations with parents. That means a family of five could vacation for six days for roughly $3,000 including golf, meals and children's camp.

Call 800-SEA-ISLAND.

New Hampshire's gracious Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods in the White Mountains charges just $20 greens fees (as compared to more than $100 at many resorts) for adults. Kids 12 and under play free with a parent, as long as there is space. There's a King of the Mountain Kids Camp for younger brothers and sisters. A six-night, seven-day stay, including meals, golf and other activities, typically would cost a family of four $2,500 this summer.

Call 800-258-0330.

Marriott's Camelback Inn and Mountain Shadows Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., offer golf lessons and clinics for young children through the resort's summer camp, while junior golfers pay half the greens fees when accompanied by an adult. Golf packages start at $125 a night at the Mountain Shadows.

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Call 800-782-2123.

Visit the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs over the Fourth of July weekend or Labor Day weekend, and children can play golf free after 3 p.m. Kids also stay and eat free.

Call 800-634-7711.

At the same time the PGA and LPGA jointly are working to make golf a game everyone can play through community-based programs designed to introduce thousands of youngsters, including many in the inner cities, to the sport.

"Golf can be the vehicle to show the children different opportunities to use their time," explains Clark.

For information about PGA junior programs in your community call your local public course or visit the PGA's Web page at www.PGA.com.

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Wherever you play, 15-year-old Sara Compton has this advice: "Don't take it too seriously." She says. "It's just a game. You can play another tomorrow."

Send your questions and comments about family travel to Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053 or e-mail to eogintzol.com. While every letter cannot be answered, some of your stories may be used in future columns.)

Pub Date: 5/25/97



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