Like a trusty pair of waterproof Footjoy golf shoes during a downpour or a new grip on a favorite Odyssey putter, Cathy Hughes was looking for the perfect fit.
The former golf instructor at Cuyuna Country Club in Deerwood was searching for a place to teach. She wanted a place with a relaxed family atmosphere so her three children could tag along to learn and enjoy the game the way Hughes did.
She found that perfect fit at Wildwedge Family Golf Park in Jenkins. Hughes, a member of the United States Golf Teachers Federation, will teach Tuesdays and Thursdays at the golf facility on Highway 371.
"It's just like riding a bike," Hughes said about returning to the golf business after a year off. "I have been doing this for more than 20 years. To be a golf instructor you have to have a special talent for it. You can look at a person's swing and it didn't take me a second to pick out things to work on with people I taught (Monday)."
Monday was Hughes' first day at Wildwedge. She is available for instruction to anyone, but will concentrate on Wildwedge's junior programs and leagues. Wildwedge owner Jill Beyer believes Hughes will help women feel comfortable in the lesson environment.
"The lessons we have started, there is a lot of interest with juniors and women, too," said Beyer. "There are some couples that might want to take lessons together. It's helped having a woman in that aspect. I think women are more comfortable taking lessons from a woman."
Hughes played for the University of Iowa's women's golf team. She was a golf instructor at Savannah Country Club and Cuyuna. The former Aitkin physical education and recreation teacher also coached the boys' and girls' golf programs. She owns the Gumdrop Tree in Aitkin and will open a new store May 26 in Pequot Lakes. That, along with the emphasis on families at Wildwedge, were two reasons Hughes accepted the golf position.
"I have three kids of my own that want to play and that was a big incentive to get back into teaching," said Hughes. "I wanted to give them a place where they could be golf rats. That used to be the thing and Wildwedge is perfect for that.
Course: Wildwedge Family Golf Park
Position: USGTF golf instructor
Husband: Dr. Donald Hughes
Children: David, 14; Chris, 1; and Abbie, 9
Web site: www.wildwedge.com
Club phone: (218) 568-6995
"They are real kid-oriented and family-oriented there and that's what I was looking for. I wanted a place where my kids were just going to be able to be out there.
"That miniature golf course is great. Their facility is great for teaching because you can do your lessons on the range and then send them on to a course that's not intimidating. That's what drove me back into golf. I had my first lessons (Monday) and I remembered very quickly just how much I love it."
For a half-hour lesson, Hughes charges $20. Being from the Aitkin area, she knows it will take a while to establish herself in the Jenkins area but she's confident with the Wildwedge facility it won't take too long.
"Jill is doing a good job of building a big junior program along with a junior league," said Hughes. "You don't see that around very much. Area courses have clinics, but here you can take what you learned and apply it in a junior league. I like that concept.
"My philosophy is everyone can learn to play. I want to get them to the point where they're happy to be out there playing."
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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