The things, not the people, that are close to Nathan Boone’s heart pretty much come down to where they live: Ahwatukee, golf and the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course.
He was raised in Ahwatukee and has been playing golf since 1996.
That was when he was about 7 years old and learned to play the game on Lakes Course.
So it’s only natural that he’s bringing a business of sorts to the lakes.
As an instructor with Arizona Junior Golf – a Paradise Valley-based duffers academy that offers year-round golf programs, individual instruction, after-school programs, summer camps, teams and tournament play for ages 5-19 – Boone is bringing his job back mold.
As a Prelude to a year-round junior golf instruction at the course once it fully opens in September, Boone at the end of this month is leading Arizona Junior Golf’s foray into the slowly reviving, long-dormant 18-hold executive course with a few fun instructional programs for kids.
He’ll be bringing three three-day summer camps offering a total of nine hours of instruction 8: 30-11: 30 am May 31-June 2, June 6-8 and June 13-15 for $ 169 per that offers a 1-6 instructor-student ratio; beginner / intermediate classes for ages 7-14 on Thursday mornings June 2-23 for $ 129. Registration is at arizonajuniorgolf.com.
Those programs are a prelude to after-school golf classes that Arizona Junior Golf will be holding at the Lakes on weekdays and Saturdays.
The programs Evolved from Boone’s discussions with Arizona Junior Golf Founder Dale Balvin, a PGA professional and approved instructor with the Junior Golf Association of Arizona who has
a pretty simple Philosophy about teaching golf to kids: “Always keep it simple and fun.”
Boone said he had approached Balvin when Ahwatukee Lakes’ reconstruction began from the expanse of dirt and some debris that it had become after it was closed in 2013.
“I mentioned to him how the Lakes was reopening and said it would be great to take our programming and bring it down there and he agreed,” Boone recalled. “He agreed and so we had a conversation with the (Lakes’) general manager. He agreed that we’re coaligned with what our vision is for the Lakes. We really want to bring junior golf forward and without being bias, I’d say we’re the best junior golf company the city has to offer. ”
As much as this is a business opportunity, though, it also opens a new avenue for Boone’s long love affair with the Lakes Course.
Though no one in his immediate family played, Boone learned the game from members of his extended family.
“Every year we actually had like a family reunion golf tournament,” they said of the gatherings held in New York State.
“I was never allowed to golf; I was just allowed to help out. And that kind of motivated me to start learning. So, when I’d get back from those tournaments, I was ready to play golf and the closest course was the Lakes. ”
His Uncle Rick Wagner, a PGA professional, helped teach him along with another instructor whose name he has long Forgotten.
As time went on, they joined the practice squad while attending Mountain Pointe High School and went to the private Golf Academy of America, where they majored in golf course administration.
He remembers that when they learned of the Lakes closure: “It was devastating
to me. ”
“I had learned to love the game of golf in a summer program at the Lakes back in the 90’s and continued to play golf my entire life thus far. I even based one of my Capstone projects in college on how I would personally handle the reopening of The Lakes, ”they said.
When the course’s Restoration became a virtual certainty with a judge’s order that pretty much ended more than seven years of litigation by homeowners Linda Swain and Eileen Breslin to force owner ALCR to reopen, Boone saw an opportunity.
Boone said the fact that the Lakes is a short course makes it an ideal school for beginners.
“For me the devastating part when it was closed was that it’s a really good place to grow the game,” he said. “To have Ahwatukee with no junior golf program, let alone a short course, I thought to myself ‘this is going to hurt the game.’
“I had so many good Memories from spending time on that course,” he continued. “It was really upsetting to me that money Trumps such a sport that realistically keeps kids on the right path. It helped me tremendously growing up by being on that course. ”
He recalled how as a high school junior he joined a men’s club team “and I remember the old guys being so upset that this young punk came in and he wins the Championship. It was Memories like that that left me devastated when it closed. ”
Boone couldn’t wait to get back on the reopened nine holes as the Lakes came slowly back to life.
“It’s just such an amazing feeling,” they said. “It brings back so many Memories.”
And he’s excited about bringing golf instruction back there.
It’s exciting that I get to be teaching golf in the community that afforded me such amazing junior golf opportunities, ”they said. “It will benefit the Lakes, myself and – most importantly – the Ahwatukee community.”