Golf takes a new swing in Terrace classrooms

THE GAME of golf has been reinvented in the name of getting children learning it early, and hopefully loving it.

ETHAN DHALIWAL shows off his swing at Uplands Elementary School last week where he learned the game of golf

THE GAME of golf has been reinvented in the name of getting children learning it early, and hopefully loving it.

It is also being introduced in Terrace in a classroom-style format that will not only see children of all ages able to try out the sport, but hone their skills year-round.

Last week, the B.C. Golf Association’s School of Golf director Cathy Gook visited Terrace on May 14 and 16 to teach a program called SNAG, standing for Someone New at Golf.

She taught the game to students at Uplands Elementary School, to volunteers at the Skeena Valley Golf Club and also Parkside Secondary School.

“Our Playground to Fairways school program … mission is every child in B.C. has the opportunity to learn the game of golf,” said Gook.

“We come up to train teachers, professionals or community volunteers to use the modified golf equipment  we use.”

The SNAG equipment is designed to be child friendly, intended to assist learning techniques of the game while being skill-level appropriate and fun, she said.

Equipment includes two types of clubs: one similar to an iron with a larger head called launchers, and another like, and larger than, a putter called rollers.

“They’re modified grips so it’s really easy for little hands to hold onto the clubs,” she said.

The terminology is intended to associate with the action of the ball, which in this game is roughly the size of a tennis ball but weighs the same as a golf ball, said Gook.

There are targets at which the kids aim. The balls stick to them, said Gook.

There are four different swings, or shots, that are taught.

The first swing is called rolling, otherwise known as putting. There’s chipping, which in golf is a small low elevated shot intended to land close to the green and get a ball near the hole. Next, there’s pitching, which is the third biggest swing.

“It’s when you’re fairly close to the green and want to loft it,” said Gook, “a soft, short little shot that goes up in the air.”

Next, there’s the launch.

Gook brought up three different lengths of launchers and rollers — each designed for a different age stage and each with a slightly different approach to learning the game.

The smallest size is for kindergarten to Grade 3, and that game focuses on adapting literacy skills with golf, honing hand-eye coordination, and target awareness.

That program is currently being developed to be rolled out B.C.-wide next year.

But in Terrace, now, is a set of SNAG equipment that’s ready to be used in schools.

There’s enough for 32 children at a time to play at various stations, and this set of equipment is intended to do more than just teach golf.

Colleen Annibal teaches at Parkside Secondary School, which recently purchased the equipment.

“I did the certification Monday night at the golf course,” said Annibal, adding she plans to train students who attend Parkside how to lead the program.

The plan is, she said, for her and those students to attend schools with younger children and teach SNAG as part of leadership training for the older students as well.

“My goal is to introduce as many kids as I possibly can to golf,” said Annibal.

“And for our kids to feel good about themselves helping little kids.”

Annibal’s intent is to start training her students within the next few weeks and hopefully have taught two physical education classes with her students by the time school is finished.

“I definitely want to build it as leadership for our kids,” she said. “And throughout the winder months have even the golfers coming.

“We’re hoping to get more kids involved, more kids turned on to golf,” said Annibal.

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