Wawenock Golf Club in Walpole will begin offering “tai tee golf” lessons April 27. The five-week session will be taught by master John Jenkins and Wawenock head golf professional R.J. Ochs. The workshop will be the first of its kind in Maine.
Jenkins has won five World championships, including four in karate and one in jiujitsu. In 2015 he was inducted into the Maine Black Belt Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into the Lewiston/Auburn Sports Hall of Fame, the Maine State Sports Hall of Fame, the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and the International Black Belt Hall of Fame.
Born in Newark, N.J., Jenkins started doing martial arts when he was around 8 years old. “I grew up in a tough neighborhood. Martial arts and body work were great disciplines for me. It kept me off the streets. It gave me great opportunities. I have been very fortunate,” Jenkins said.
He graduated from Bates College in 1974, where he founded the Afro-American Society. He was the first black mayor of Lewiston, the first black man to serve in the Maine Senate, and the first black mayor of Auburn.
Jenkins has lectured about tai chi therapy and trained throughout the U.S., Japan, and the People’s Republic of China. He has trained world-class athletes and is currently a national inspirational presenter and trainer.
Ochs is the head golf professional at Wawenock. He has competed on the Moonlight/Open Golf Association Mini tours. His primary teaching focus is on fundamentals, starting from the ground up, that build a base for a solid game. He offers several clinics throughout the summer at Wawenock for all ages and skill levels.
The five-week Tai Tee Golf session will be held on Wednesdays from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on April 27 and May 4, 11, 18, and 25.
Jenkins has taught tai chi therapy in many venues in Lincoln County – for garden clubs, tennis players, and lobstermen. The course at Wawenock will apply principles and techniques of tai chi therapy specifically to golf. Jenkins said the program will emphasize breathing and mind- and body-centering.
Tai chi therapy differs from tai chi in that is stresses the process, while tai chi stresses postures (repetitive movements). “Tai chi therapy focuses on the process by which we move, and how we initiate the move. It teaches you to move in a balanced and efficient way. It is contemporary tai chi, not traditional,” Jenkins said.
Peter Christine, of Alna, took a tai chi therapy class from Jensen and was pleasantly surprised to find that it improved his golf game. He saw a decrease in his number of strokes and an increase in the distance of his drives. It was Christine who suggested that Jenkins teach a course at Wawenock.
“He asked if I would do a golf-specific class and I said absolutely,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said he would like to expand on tai tee golf at Wawenock and hopes it draws visitors to the area to make “Maine a wellness destination. They can enjoy the beauty of Maine and enjoy the activities they do better,” Jenkins said.
Tai chi therapy teaches how to move the body in the way it was designed to move. “It is all about the movement from your center, your hips, in everything you do. It really focuses on how the back and hips move together, and helps with balance,” Jenkins said.
He said by moving the body correctly, a person will be able to sustain their activity longer in life by reducing wear and tear on the joints. “It works for all ages and abilities. You can use it the rest of your life.”
“It is all about mechanics of your body, and how you move, how to retrain your body to move in a certain way. We tend to use the body in an off-balanced manner throughout our lives,” Jenkins said of favoring one side of the body.
The first half-hour of the tai tee golf workshop will focus on breathing and balance, and in the second half-hour, participants will apply what they have learned on the golf course. The workshop will stress efficiency of motion and apply it instantly to a participant’s golf game.
“I am glad to have a place to feature it. I hope to bring the world to Wawenock down the road,” Jenkins said.