Students learn the game of golf

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A new program being incorporated in Adams County School District 50 elementary schools is teaching students the game of golf, a sport that requires physical and mental ability.

StartingNewAtGolf, SNAG, is a youth learning program that uses age-appropriate equipment to teach children how to play golf. It began as a recreational program in the Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District in 2011, and is now also being offered to students for free by employees of the district.

Allen Brown, director of golf at the Greg Mastriona Golf Courses at Hyland Hills, said with the demographics of District 50, golf is a sport that other kids play and a sport that takes a lot of time and money. With SNAG, golf is now becoming an accessible sport for the students. Brown said not only will the students have the opportunity to learn a new and fun sport, but also learn other skills and lessons.

“I believe golf teaches you honesty and integrity and that leads into character,” he said. “We also believe it is a very good bridge between the intellect and the physical because there is strategy involved, it’s not just a brute force game. It does take power though so you’ve got to somehow figure out how to combine those things.”

F.M. Day Elementary is the first school to use program, but next fall at least four other schools will take advantage of SNAG. Jordan Riley, facilities manager of Carroll Butts Athletic Park, is one of the SNAG instructors. She’s not a golfer herself, so the fact that she can teach kids to golf, she says is pretty amazing. Riley teaches with plastic color-coded clubs, balls that resemble a tennis ball and bright-colored targets, all SNAG equipment. The kids attempt to hit the middle of the target practicing their putting, chipping and driving skills.

“We can set different obstacles the kids have to try to go over or around, it’s really neat,” she said. “And when a kid takes a swing and the ball goes where they want it to, it’s just so beautiful. They get excited and so does the group behind them, who are cheering for them.”

The district applied for a grant to receive the SNAG equipment and program materials. But Brown’s ultimate dream is to one day have a SNAG golf course as part of the Greg Mastriona Golf Courses at Hyland Hills.

“I want to provide a facility for kids that's designed with the proper yardages, greens and hazards,” he said. “A place where kids are playing golf on a course, keeping score and measuring their own progress. Then using that as part of a ladder to get to our other courses.”

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