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Thursday, August 30, 2012

SNAG Your Youngster On Golf

photo courtesy of SNAG
Why don't more kids take up golf? Because golf courses, instructors, and nearly everyone else in the game make it almost impossible for them to play. We introduce them to the game by standing them on a range, handing them a cut-down club, then filling their little heads with a couple dozen things to remember about their grip, stance, alignment, backswing, follow-through, balance, and so on. Maybe after a few weeks of pounding balls, we let them actually go out on the course, but it's the same one the grownups play and the rules are the same, so (just like the adults) they fail most of the time.

SNAG has a different approach. Starting New At Golf contains all the elements of golf but can be played anywhere indoors or out. It's an easy game that gets kids (or anyone) into the game by making it easy to learn and fun to play. Gee, what a concept.

PGA professional Kelly McCammon, a VP at SNAG, describes the game as a "bunny slope" for golf. "It's designed to introduce kids to the game the same way other sports bring young players into theirs," he says. "Youngsters begin soccer with a ball sized to their smaller feet, baseball puts the ball on a tee for beginners, basketball lowers the hoop--you get the picture." The SNAG equipment package and instruction system does the same thing.

photo courtesy of SNAG
Everything in the package is color-coded and simplified. The kids learn to hold a club correctly, for example, by grabbing the five-sided club handle with their left thumb on the yellow side and the right on the red one--giving them a perfect grip. Everything is target-oriented, too. There's a big circle on the club face that tells them where the ball is supposed to be struck and the ball itself is teed up on a pad with an arrow pointing to the place you want it to go. The ball is specially designed to be used anywhere indoors or out. There are only two clubs in the set--an oversized eight iron and a giant putter--but they are available in sizes for three-year-olds on up. The "hole" is actually a flag-topped cone that sits above ground and uses a velcro-like surface to hold the ball when it hits. There are other targets,

SNAG equipment is used by the First Tee and the system has been adopted by 12,000 facilities in 42 countries around the world. The system is marketed mostly to golf courses, schools, and parks and recreation departments, although there are individual packages available and it would be very easy to set up a SNAG "course" in your backyard.

President Terry Anton estimated 3.5 million kids are participating in the program in the U.S. The goal, he points out, is not just to get them into the game but to keep them there. "We believe sixty to seventy percent of SNAG participants stay in the game," he says. I can't think of a better testimonial.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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