Some would say that golf has long needed to reach out to various parts of our community and show what a wonderful game can do for those who might have less advantage than the rest of us. Such is the sentiment behind Howard Swan’s initiative to work with the Endeavour School in Essex to bring the opportunity to some of the pupils to begin to play the game and to see what it can do for them in providing something which will bring them some enjoyment and will help them with the therapy in addressing their behavioural and social disadvantages.
The Endeavour Initiative commenced last autumn with a class of 14 and 15-year-olds beginning to be taught to play golf by the professional staff at Little Channels Golf Centre and stemmed from Swan supporting and working with the SNAP (Special Needs And Parents) local charity over the last two years.
Swan adds: “It seemed to be that those youngsters who have autistic behavioural characteristics, who have a remarkable ability to focus, often to the exclusion of being aware of the wider implications of that and often to presenting society with a great difficulty in understanding … and accepting them, could well enjoying to play the game because of that focus and do rather well at it … and at the same time it do something for them. It is turned out to be exactly that in the classes which we have held of the last three or four months have been highly successful in their learning how to swing the club, how to hit the ball, and given them a real lift in their self-esteem and shown great benefits to them in terms of therapy further disadvantage.
I am looking to expanding the Initiative to other schools in Essex, with the support of other golf clubs in Essex during the coming months, and having set out a three year plan for its development with, I hope the support of England Golf, it is my ambition to see the game reaching out to this part of our community and achieving real social advantage, progression and sustainability”
Classes for younger children will begin at the school in March, using SNAG kit donated by Swan, and beginning to develop their golfing and improve their social skills within the school environment itself and on the playing fields.
The Saturday of Championship Week in July will see a golf day for the special needs kids, their parents and their families organised in Essex to spread the word and gain further support for the Initiative.
Howard Swan is a golf course architect at Swan Golf Designs.