Staff photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith The Oaks Course new golf professional Lisa Vaught is ready to grow the enthusiasm of the game amongst the younger and non-traditional players..
COVINGTON -- To say that Lisa Vaught was a good find as the new golf professional at The Oaks Course is an understatement.
Having been named the Teacher of the Year in the Knoxville, Tenn., chapter of the PGA and has a love of growing the game. But having worked with mostly senior players for the past 10 years at Toqua Golf Course at Tellico Village, Vaught is ready to work with younger players.
"I want to grow the junior side of it because there are a ton of kids and schools around. I want to get more girls involved," Vaught said. "I noticed (Region 2-AAAAAA tournament) there aren't as many girls compared to the boys. I also want to get more women involved in golf.
"I like that Dick (Schulz) was very interested in growing the game and the PGA programs like Golf Ready and things like that. I also liked the lure of working with juniors again and growing the game from that aspect. I missed that working in the retirement community. We would only get that once a year when the grandkids came in."
At her previous course, Vaught had a hard time helping to grow the game even though some of the 1,200 members were new to the game. Now that she has the potential to grow the game not only because of the children but with their parents as well. She knows it's not going to be easy but she's ready to tackle whatever comes her way.
"It's going to be more challenging here to grow," she said. "Especially with women because they're more involved with the day-to-day activities of their kids. So as we grow the junior program we'll try to pull the mothers and the fathers in as well. If we have a junior camp we may offer something for the parents on the side to get them interested."
One way Vaught plans on making golf more of a family activity is to have group lessons for juniors and women and separate lessons for beginner and intermediate levels. Once the players have reached the level where they enjoy the game, she can help on an individual level.
"I take it on an individual basis. I just take the fundamentals of golf because not everybody is the same. I don't have a teaching method, I just use the fundamentals," Vaught said.
A reason why Vaught is probably so passionate about growing the junior program is because she never had the opportunity growing up in Knoxville. As an athlete, she took advantage of what was available playing softball and basketball in high school. As a result, she didn't start playing golf until her junior/senior year of high school. Unfortunately, golf was not available as a sport at the time at her high school nor at the University of Tennessee.
Because she was athletic, she was able to pick up the game but she never developed the competitive nature she had while playing other sports. Vaught got into the golf business in 1993 and started teaching in 1997.
"I decided I wasn't going to make a living playing and I wanted to be in the golf business. Where I belonged, Green Meadow Country Club, the professional there was looking for an assistant and asked me if I was interested. He hired me and from there it grew and grew and my passion for it got more and more the longer I was into the business," Vaught said.
"I like to teach and be around people. I like the interaction and getting to know all the people in trying to watch them improve. Some are more challenging than others but I like the challenge of watching people improve."