When it comes to teaching the game of golf to kids, Karsten Beutnagel is above par.

The Weston resident recently opened Connecticut's second franchise of Total Golf Adventures, a Gaylord, Mich.-based firm founded in 2003 to provide students in kindergarten through eighth grade with access to the game through its at-school, after-school Golf Enrichment program.

"We want to get kids into the game early," said Beutnagel, a former human resources professional who in April graduated as valedictorian from the Golf Academy of America's Phoenix, Ariz., campus, before focusing on the new venture. "We find to really have an impact on golf is through the schools."

The state's first TGA franchise was opened by Brian Karavish in Glastonbury in September.

Beutnagel said he has begun developing programs with three elementary schools in Westport, a private school in Darien and the Norwalk Housing Authority. The native of Germany said he is looking to start programs in other towns throughout Fairfield County.

"Golf is more than just a game. It's about learning life's values of courtesy, self-confidence and patience," said Beutnagel, 46. "These are the skills we really try to drive home."

The programs, taught by golfers at the high school and collegiate levels, typically consist of eight weekly classes costing about $20 per class per child, Beutnagel said. Equipment, which includes golf clubs and Almost Golf training balls, are provided at the classes, which range in size from 10 to 15 kids, he said.

"You have to be passionate about golf and about teaching kids," Beutnagel said of the instructors. "It has to be a good balance between fun and fundamentals."

TGA has had more than 50,000 students participate in its programs at more than 1,800 schools.

"Our continued expansion of franchises in the State of Connecticut, as well as the New England region confirms the demand for structures, affordable and accessible youth growth of the game initiatives," Joshua Jacobs, TGA's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "We look forward to working with Karsten as he develops our in-school five-level education-based youth programs while instilling life values and character development."

The recession has driven more consumers and entrepreneurs than ever to franchises as both groups are seeking safe and predictable outcomes, said Steve Dubin, president of Boston-based New England Franchise Association.

"Potential investors are looking for a business with a proven track record and operations manual to replicate a successful process," he said, adding that the ongoing rash of company layoffs has caused many people to consider franchise ownership. "There have been many more new faces looking to buy franchises, particularly escapees from corporate America."