With the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center taking shape behind them, around 20 young athletes worked on their games in late July on Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Course practice facility, during an early-afternoon session in the summer’s second Golf Skills Camp.
Ian Ziska, Katke’s course manager and PGA head professional, was joined by Kyle Wittenbach, Ferris’ head golf coach, and members of the university’s men’s and women’s golf teams, who worked to offer instruction and assistance to the youngsters.
“There is a diverse group, with golfers as young as 12 years old, while others are potential incoming freshmen at Ferris,” Ziska said. “There are male and female golfers, some of them are newer to the game, while others are capable of playing competitively in high school, or at a collegiate level. Some diamonds in the rough frequently appear at these camps, which can have an unexpected benefit for either of our golf teams.”
The campers fanned out along the practice tee. Some campers worked on their full swing, while others practiced near the 21st hole, which offered uneven lies as they struck balls that sat above and below their feet.
“We like to rotate our groups through three segments,” Ziska said. “Our coaching method is broad, so the training can be adapted to complement a player’s ability.”
During the camp, golfers were offered instruction on all aspects of the game, on and off the course.
“We provide the campers a good deal of practice tee time to assist their development, but we also stress the importance of fitness and nutrition, and each camp will include a yoga session, so they work on strength and flexibility,” Ziska said. “I also believe they benefit greatly from getting out and playing every day that they are in camp.”
The organizers of the Golf Skills Camp believe they will be able to expand their offerings to all seasons when the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center is completed in early 2019.
“In the long term, the Learning Center will allow us to have off-season camp offerings, using the simulators on the upper floor and working on short game and seeing ball flight when hitting shots out of the lower practice bays,” Ziska said. “We are very lucky, and I feel we have one of the best practice facilities in the Midwest and Ferris’ Professional Golf Management program is tops in the country. The addition of the Learning Center will only make our facility stronger. The campers who return each year will be able to work on their game at one of the best golf learning environments out there, and I think all of this will be a major draw to our camps as well as recruitment for those interested in what Ferris can offer them.”
Lastly, Ziska said the golfers who come to Ferris, for skills camp, are not the only ones who benefit from the sessions.
“Our PGM students and members of the men’s and women’s golf teams have a unique opportunity
to learn and develop their own skills as instructors and coaches thanks to their interactions
with the campers,” Ziska said. “It is a great and rare experience that we can offer
PHOTO CAPTION: Ian Ziska, Katke Golf Course’s course manager and PGA head professional, instructs a young golfer.