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Former pro golfers share knowledge with youth at local clinic

By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
June 21, 2012 at 1:21 a.m.

Professional golfer Steve Veriato gives instruction kids at a golf clinic at Victoria Country Club on Thursday.

When Nicholas Kouches received the text, he could not believe it.

He had to get to Victoria Country Club.

He could not miss this opportunity.

Serving as an appetizer to the Texas Senior Open in October, the country club hosted a kickoff clinic for junior golfers Tuesday afternoon, featuring former PGA and Champions Tour members David Lundstrom and Steve Veriato.

And when Kouches' father texted him the time of the event earlier in the day, the 13-year-old was determined to take full advantage of improving his understanding of the game he fell in love with at the age of 7.

"I really wanted to go because I heard there were two professionals coming out here, so that just really drew me into coming out here," Kouches said. "I just wanted to watch.

"It was probably the coolest thing, it was really exciting. I really enjoyed listening to them and their information."

The free clinic focused on proper swing fundamentals and techniques, but for the two featured instructors, it was simply a time to nurture golf's next generation.

"That's the point, we finally get to give back," Veriato said. "You wish you were (the kids) because when you were young, some of these opportunities were not available.

"We are trying to expel some education from the guys who have experience and are old like us, but only wish we were young like them, to help them out."

Lundstrom agreed.

"It's give back time," the three-time U.S. Open participant said. "I had a lot of people help me along the way and that I learned from.

"It's just time to pass it on, pass the torch to different people and, hopefully, they get the bug and love golf half as much as I have."

In addition to showing the youth in attendance various mechanical intricacies, such as body and club manipulations, involved with perfecting one's swing, the former professionals made a point to emphasize the importance of preparation, including studying the course hole by hole, dedication and focus.

Coupled with the other advantages, Veriato hopes his interactions with junior golfers creates an even richer talent pool on links across the country.

"Nowadays, kids are better. They swing better, they score better, they've got better equipment, they've got better courses, they've got people who are helping them more, the PGA pros help them more, the education is more available, they can watch TV more," the Texas A&M alum said. "So, they have a better chance than I did."

One Victoria golfer, in particular, intends to capitalize on all the advantages available, especially the knowledge gained from Veriato and Lundstrom.

After the clinic concluded, Kouches began hitting balls at the course's driving range, attempting to utilize some of the tricks he learned.

"I was trying to do some of the things they taught," the Our Lady of Victory student said. "And it is doing pretty good actually. It definitely sunk in."

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