By ANGIE CARNATHAN
Starkville Parks and Recreation recently received top honors at the annual Mississippi Recreation and Park Association Conference.
The department won the 2011 Sports Programming Award in Class II, which covers cities with populations of 15,000-30,000. The honor was given for the organization’s Junior Golf Camp they put on this past summer in conjunction with the Mississippi State University Institute of Golf.
“This is a really big deal for us,” Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Rye said. “This is our third year in a row to win a state award and we have won in several different categories, which shows that our department and staff is well rounded. This was just a great effort between Starkville Parks and Recreation and the MSU Institute of Golf. We were very lucky to be able to provide the camp free of charge due to the help of several sponsors.”
Sponsors of the camp include Travis Outlaw, Cubby Harris Painting, Phi Beta Sigma, Starkville Masons, Army Navy Pawn Store, Snap Fitness, Clover Street Project, Dan Camp, Brickfire Project, Video Magic and Frank Nichols.
MRPA Awards Chair and Tupelo Parks and Recreation Director Leigh Ann Mattox said she was thrilled to give the award to such a deserving group.
“Our committee gets together each year prior to the conference and when were were going through the applications for this particular award, the Starkville Junior Golf Camp really stood out,” Mattox said. “We picked the golf camp because it was unique and it gave a lot of kids the opportunity to try their hand at golf that might not have had that opportunity otherwise. We love the fact that it was made available to so many kids, and that they were able to offer it to so many kids as a result of having a community that gives so much support.”
MSU Golf Institute Head Professional Kyle Cassin helped with the camp this summer and said he considered it a huge success.
“The camp was an excellent way for us to bring golf to kids in the community,” Cassin said. “It is something that I think we’ll definitely try to do again in the future.”
Cassin said the MSU Golf Institute organizers feel kids of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds should have access to the sport.
“In addition to the Junior Golf Camp we held with Starkville Parks and Recreation this summer, one of the other things we’re working on is getting golf worked into public schools with a program we have called SNAG, or ‘Starting New At Golf,’ which is a way to get kids interested in golf without the expense and the danger of using adult equipment,” Cassin said. SNAG uses plastic clubs and larger balls that are safe to be used by younger children and can be utilized inside school gymnasiums.