SCOTTSDALE — In frigid Huron, South Dakota, Dale Balvin realized he loved golf at age 10.
Now as a certified PGA professional golf instructor, he spreads that passion to a new generation of young players at his Golf’s Elementary program in the Valley, an after-school program that Belvin said is for kids between ages 5 to 14.
“Growing up you always go out to the golf course and hang out,” Balvin said. “You see what the pro does and stuff like that. I guess I kind of wanted to do it when I was young, too.”
At Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, Balvin earned a degree in marketing with an emphasis in professional golf management. He was 23 when he got his start in the Arizona golf scene for Desert Mountain golf courses. He eventually went to work for Intrawest Golf and became a regional sales manager. Then he had a change of heart, an eureka moment.
“I was like, ‘What am I going to do? ’ ” Balvin said. “I love to be around golf, I like kids, so I called the Cave Creek School District and said, ‘Hey, would you want to do an after-school golf program?’ They said, ‘Sure, we’d love to try.’ ”
Since its inception in 2006, Balvin said the golf school has introduced the game to more than 300 junior golfers each year. His junior golf tournaments have reached 600 golfers, some of whom participated in his school according to southwestpga.com.
Balvin’s colleagues have noticed his work. Earlier this month, he received the Southwest PGA Youth Player Development Award.
“Dale’s a great instructor in that he allows them to have fun and he encourages the fun,” said Michele Cochran, the mother of Tripp Cochran, who has been a part of Golf’s Elementary for five years. “He has these X3 tournaments that are nine holes for younger kids so they can go out and hit the ball and get some experience.”
Balvin’s Golf’s Elementary runs from September through May, Monday through Thursday from 4-6 p.m.
During the summer, he holds camps for 10 weeks.
The school districts in the program are Cave Creek, Paradise Valley and Scottsdale, along with some private schools who also participate Balvin said.
With 20 to 25 kids attending on any given day at Golf’s Elementary, Balvin credits his staff as intricate parts to the success of his program. He believes in keeping a 6-to-1 teacher-to-player ratio with his four staff members.
“I’m a parent of three, and I’m like if I’m paying for lessons I want them to learn,” Balvin said. “I don’t want to see kids rolling down the hill. I want to have a good quality product out there where they are getting benefits.”
Whether it is running Golf’s Elementary or planning USGA events for junior golfers, Balvin impacts golfers after they have left his realm.
Chaparral High School sophomore Carson Blair spent three years participating in Balvin’s events. Blair recently open enrolled to Chaparral from Pinnacle High School because of Chaparral’s golf program.
“Dale’s worked hard for many years that I have seen him,” Blair said. “He does a great job with running tournaments.”
Blair noted that if it wasn’t for Balvin’s golf tournaments, he wouldn’t have built friendships with fellow peers who play at the more competitive Chaparral golf program.
Balvin has without a doubt made an impression on kids, parents, and school districts within the area in a positive light. So what is the biggest key to his success?
“Patience, like a lot of it,” Balvin said. “You have to coach the kids, you have to coach the parents, that it’s going to take 10,000 swings basically for them to become a decent player. It’s not overnight.”