Christensen: ‘It’s cool to play golf now’
Caleb Christensen Golf Academy opens new facility, offers lessons to all ages
SLEEPY EYE — He’s been passionate about golf for quite some time, and now he’s running his own golf academy at just 20 years of age.
Opening his door on 140 1st Avenue North in Sleepy Eye, 2017 Sleepy Eye high school graduate Caleb Christensen welcomes people of all ages to improve their game with him at Caleb Christensen Golf Academy (CCGA).
Although CCGA officially began in February of 2018, Christensen was able to find a home for it with a new indoor facility in Sleepy Eye this past March. The facility features a ProPuttSystems Putting Green and a FlightScope launch monitor and was also recognized by the PGA in the second week of April this year.
FlightScope is a 3D Doppler tracking radar that allows golfers the ability to determine the carry, total and roll distance, ball speed and landing position, with additional data tracking launch angles, spin and many other features with state-of-the-art accuracy.
Christensen’s roots in golf can be traced back to the fifth grade, where he first started golfing with his grandpa. He quickly became a fan and avid golfer, making the Sleepy Eye varsity team as a seventh-grader.
He was one of the top golfers for the Indians in his six years at the varsity level, making it to state his junior and senior year, with his best individual finish at state being fifth place. He was also a four-time Tomahawk All-Conference golfer and finished his senior year as the section medalist, shooting even par.
After graduating high school, Christensen attended and played golf at Concordia University in St. Paul for a semester. But he decided that it was time for a change and a move out of Minnesota to improve himself and further his career with a move to Arizona.
“While I was down there, I was working at a golf course, Arrowhead Country Club (Glendale, Arizona), working with a teaching professional down there, so kind of learning some tricks, learning how to teach golf and figure some stuff out that way,” Christensen said. “Last summer, I started working at the [New Ulm] Country Club as Tim’s [Huffman] assistant professional. I’m doing that a little bit more this year, but I guess I got my start teaching over here in Sleepy Eye. We started a junior golf [program], I think when I was in 10th grade in the summer. So I helped out with that right away from the beginning and then each year after that, I kind of just got more involved with that until last year, we started Caleb Christensen Golf.”
Christensen also became a certified US Kids Golf Coach last October in Arizona and is currently a PGA Associate, working towards a PGA membership.
Now also a head coach for the New Ulm Cathedral high school boys’ and girls’ golf teams, Christensen focuses on junior golf, tournament planning, college prep and the future of the game. CCGA offers lessons for golfers ages 6 on up, though, so Christensen doesn’t want older golfers to shy away and think that they aren’t welcome.
“I hear that a lot, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,'” he said. “That’s not true. There’s always something we can tweak to have a little more fun. With golf, they always say that there’s always that one shot that keeps you coming back. It’s the same thing in here. There’s always something we can tweak, there’s always something cool we can do. Maybe you’ve never had a birdie before, let’s work on your birdie. Never make a hole-in-one? Let’s work on your irons. I like to always have a goal in mind.”
Indoor lessons at the facility will be offered from October to April, with lessons outdoors and on the range at the Sleepy Eye Golf Course from April to September as much as possible. Rainy days can still lead to indoor lessons, though, so Christensen remains an email or phone call away for those interested.
An online program is available also for those interested at www.calebchristensengolf.com.
Christensen said that he likes to set up programs for interested golfers because like any skill, it’s hard to improve with just one lesson.
“We also do lesson programs for adults, coaching programs,” he said. “The thing that I like to do about golf is we want to get on a program, do something continuous, because you can’t learn a lot from one lesson. It’s really hard to just come in and change one thing, because you’ve got habits and all kinds of stuff. People don’t practice as much. If you’re super into golf, you’re going to practice. But the average golfer doesn’t have a lot of time to practice, so if you get one lesson and one thing, a week later you don’t know what it was.”
Christensen also said that junior golf numbers have been growing each year and he’s excited to see golf becoming cool to play for all ages.
“I’ve already seen a difference just in the couple years that we’ve been doing the junior golf in Sleepy Eye, our membership is growing, juniors are getting more into the game,” he said. “It’s cool to play golf now, especially with Tiger Woods just winning [the Masters] … and golf is such a great sport, you can literally play it your whole life, from 6 to 86, even longer.”
For those that are interested in stopping in to check out the indoor facility, or for those looking to set up a lesson or program, the best way to contact Christensen is by leaving him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’ll get back to you as soon as possible with times to set up a lesson or meeting.
Guest Rates (rates are per person)
50-Minute Private Lesson (Adult): $60
50-Minute Private Lesson (Junior): $50
50-Minute Group Lesson (2-4 people): $45
50-Minute Group Lesson (5-8 people): $35
Playing Lesson (9 or 18 holes): $80-$350
(varies by location)
CCG Locations: Sleepy Eye Golf Club, New Ulm Country Club, Indoor Facility