In an effort to bring golf into the mainstream of youth sports in the U.S., golf legend Jack Nicklaus has embarked on an initiative to grow the game with the assistance of SNAG® Golf (Starting New at Golf) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
The new Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, powered by SNAG, will be introduced at select local park and recreation facilities in 2013, and for the first time golf will be made available to youngsters as a team sport.
The innovative Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, combined with SNAG’s well-established, first-touch development program, will provide a golf learning experience for children, ages 5 to 12, in a safe, affordable and accessible environment.
Nicklaus has been an important advocate for growing the game and he envisions that with SNAG’s programming and modified equipment, and the active participation of local park and recreation agencies through the National Recreation and Park Association, golf at last will have a competitive footing with such team sports as soccer, basketball and football.
“There are so many sports–team sports–played in the park system today,” Nicklaus said. “Today, kids start playing athletics when they are as young as 4 or 5 years old, and by the time they are just 7, 8 or 9 years old, many of them have picked the two or three sports that they might want to play in the different seasons. If golf is not part of the sports introduced and available to them at their local park and recreation facilities, they will play other sports and not golf. So we need to get golf in their local parks and have them play our sport, and I think the team concept is the way to do it.”
“Children seem to embrace the team concept of looking to and relying on other children, so it is not all on their shoulders. A lot of kids shy away from golf because of that. When I picked up the game at age 10, one of the beauties of the sport was that I could do it by myself. I didn’t need someone to throw a ball to me or catch a ball or defend me. I could be as good as the time and effort that I wanted to put into it. But at the very young age many children are introduced to sports, many don’t want so much placed on their shoulders. The idea is to bring kids into the game, keep them into the game, have them learn, let them have fun, have fun with their friends, and then they can advance to the next level where they get on a golf course and develop.”
Some 300 Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues are planned for spring 2013 and an estimated 400 are projected to launch in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus www.nicklaus.com.
SNAG Golf www.snageurope.com & www.i-kangc.com