Laughter filled the air at the Blossom Park Public School on Tuesday, February 7th. What was behind the giggles and shouts of glee? Remarkably, it was golf.
The school, located in the south end of Ottawa, was the site of the official Ottawa Valley launch of the Golf Association of Ontario Callaway Golf For Kids program. The initiative, sponsored in the region by Flagstick Golf Magazine, will be in fourteen schools in the Ottawa Catholic School Board and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board this year with Flagstick committed to cover the cost of the program for 30 schools over the next three years. The hope is to attract more individual and businesses to sponsor other schools in the community.
“This is amazing to see,” said a smiling Jeff Bauder as he watched three classes of children take part in the program at the launch. The Publisher of Flagstick says he feels that although their company is involved in many community level golf events, this one is the most critical. “This is the future of the game – providing the opportunity for kids to be exposed to the game, kids that probably would never have a chance to see how much fun it can be. It breaks down the barrier of what golf is about and even if they don’t run out and play golf at a course right away, in the future they will associate it with fun and be more willing to become a golfer.”
Also on-hand to watch the launch was Carol Ann Campbell of the National Golf Course Owners Association, Ottawa Valley Golf Association President Jean Stone-Seguin, and Golf Association of Ontario Executive Director Dave Mills.
Developed by the Golf Association of Ontario following the success of the Callaway Golf in Schools program, Callaway Golf for Kids is the staple junior grassroots development platform of the GAO and is currently in 625 schools across Ontario. This multi-step program is designed with fun and safety in mind to give children an opportunity to experience and learn a game that helps build character and promotes life-long activity.
The Callaway Golf for Kids program works in tandem with the National Golf in Schools program and provides additional interactive elements that will help give kids a well-rounded introduction to the sport. Local schools will receive a learning resource developed in partnership with Physical Health and Education Association of Canada (PHE Canada) along with a full set of kid-sized golf equipment.
The program kicks in with the “Mr. Knickers and Friends” component, an introduction to the fun side of golf with emphasis on safety and sportsmanship for the primary grades. The “Learn to Swing” element provides a real life feel for the game as teachers introduce the fundamentals of stance, posture, alignment and grip. This is then put into practice with the use of real golf clubs in a driving range-like school yard set up.
The final component that children will experience is the transition program, designed to ‘help kids get on course’. The GAO will provide teachers and parents with information on transitioning from the schoolyard to the golf course. This information includes local “kid friendly” golf courses, the programs they offer, and the golf professionals that are available to guide both teachers and parents in the right direction. This will provide many opportunities to encourage participation in the sport of golf throughout the Ottawa area.
Leading the way at Blossom Park is the Grade Five Teacher, Madame Melanie Ertel. Ertel, who happens to love golf, is excited at the opportunity her kids are receiving through the Callaway Golf In The Kids program. “It’s just fabulous. There is no way we would have this program here if it was not sponsored. Most of our kids would never get a chance to do anything golf related but now they ask me all the the time when we are going to golf next.”
When we had a chance to talk to Ertel is full about the program on the day of the official launch it made for some fun audio. Click on the link to listen to her chat about what the program means to her as her students, as those kids take part in golf activities in the background.
For additional information on the program please visit the following websites: