joshnahm By in Instruction, Students
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Firekeeper pro named one of nation’s top youth instructors for second straight year

MAYETTA — Golf is frustrating. For everyone at every level.

Youth, however, sometimes show their emotions the most and can be easily sidetracked.

Josh Nahm tries to channel that vibe into something positive. The Firekeeper Golf Course professional was recently named one of the nation’s top 50 elite junior instructors by Future Champions Golf, the second year in a row Nahm earned that distinction.

Patience may be his virtue.

“I like when kids get frustrated,’’ said Nahm, “because it shows they care. But there’s times when you have to talk to them and say, ‘Keep following the path you’re on. Keep fighting through.’ You do, and you’re going to have that day when you jump from mid-70s to low-70s. It’s going to happen. Just keep doing what you’re doing.’’

Sometimes that message can be as hard to sink in as a breaking downhill putt.

“In this day we want instant gratification,’’ Nahm added. “In golf that’s just not possible.’’

Solid results have been steady for local youth golfers since Nahm came to the Prairie Band Casino and Resort five-plus years ago to head the Firekeeper Golf Academy.

Nahm has helped several Washburn Rural golfers who participated on state championship teams in recent years, including some who have gone on to play collegiately.

“Some people can take a player so far, and then it’s where do we go from there,’’ said Rural coach Jared Goehring. “Josh gets them to that next level and really makes them committed and accountable too.’’

One key to the Junior Blues’ growth, as well as that of other players from Topeka and the Midwest who have progressed under Nahm’s instruction, has been his insistence to brave the elements golfers face this time of year.

“I really wanted to try to implement a way for them to practice and compete year-round, and give them an understanding of what it takes to go to the next level and play college golf,’’ Nahm said.

“Getting kids together to compete against one another and playing a lot so they could look at their improvement as a year-round thing is important. You want to make it so they don’t put the clubs away.’’

To that end, Nahm offers youth instruction indoors on weekdays after school. Given this is the offseason, swing flaws can be addressed without any adverse effect on tournament scoring.

Later this month, he and Goehring will conduct a second annual clinic for state high school coaches at Firekeeper. In the summer, Nahm conducts an eight-week elite camp for juniors.

Every player who puts in the work goes through periods when plateaus seemingly block progress.

Dedicated golfers grind on, a point Nahm stresses when he advises youth players to practice in adverse conditions.

As an example, he cited Parker Beal, who captured the Class 6A individual title as a sophomore last season for Washburn Rural.

“He’s got kids he wants to beat on a national level. He’s got teammates who want to beat him,’’ Nahm said. “There’s never an end game where you feel, ‘I’m there.’ You’re always trying to move up a level, no matter where you are. That’s why I love junior golf.

“Those kids are never happy, and that’s the enjoyment of it. Where you’re at, there’s always somebody better and there’s always another step to take.’’

Nahm coached golf at the Division II level for the same school where he played collegiately, St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, N.C. He then became the lead instructor at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., before coming to Firekeeper.

The instruction Nahm offers now is more direct and involves kids traveling to Firekeeper from throughout the region. He has a handful of players aged 7-9, but works mostly with youths aged 12-18.

As part of Firekeeper’s effort to grow the game, a Future Champions Tour event is scheduled in early August and will attract budding players from throughout the Midwest. College coaches will be part of the gallery.

Nahm is hopeful players he instructed not only will be recruited, but exhibit toughness.

Golfers good enough to prevail in whatever conditions Kansas presents, including wind, possess that quality. Nasty weather can be telling.

“You can almost see from how kids walk out of the (school) van, which ones are going to play bad, just by their attitude,’’ Nahm said.

“You just keep telling them, ‘Enjoy this. Look at it as a positive.’ If their playing partner is crying and whining, that’s one guy you don’t have to worry about beating. Just don’t join him.’’