Golf: Fun SNAG helps get kids hooked on golf

By Peter White

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Niwa Goldsmith tees off at the Mount Golf Club. Photo/Andrew Warner
Niwa Goldsmith tees off at the Mount Golf Club. Photo/Andrew Warner

Thousands of Kiwi kids are taking up golf thanks to SNAG Golf.

Starting New At Golf is an innovative coaching programme that encourages kids by making it easy to learn and fun to play.

It involves funky, colourful equipment, oversized clubs hitting tennis balls onto velcro targets.

It still contains all the elements of golf but can be played anywhere, indoors or out, and most of all it is a fun experience.

SNAG Golf was officially launched in New Zealand in November 2011 and so far more than 4000 young Kiwis have enjoyed the learning concept based at 13 clubs nationwide.

New Zealand's greatest golfer and SNAG Patron Sir Bob Charles believes it could bring the next Michael Campbell, Phil Tataurangi or Lydia Ko to the sport.

The Mount Golf Academy coaching team of Robert Rookes, Luke Nobilo and Michael Roulston have used SNAG Golf for the past six months as part of their programmes with the 5-10 age groups that are supported by The Lion Foundation.

Nobilo says the kids love it and the results have been excellent.

"SNAG is one of the major junior ideas in terms of getting kids into golf," he said.

"The equipment they use is a bit different. It is all plastic, the heads are a lot bigger, the shafts are a lot shorter, the grips are a different shape that helps them put their hands on the club to learn all the basics.

"They use tennis balls, they use big velcro targets as holes and bullseye targets, which makes it all a lot more fun.

"There is colour as well.

"They get the ball in the air more often and that is what they are after. If they see that more often then they are into it and away they go. There is also short game drills like things to putt through."

Nobilo says getting the younger kids into golf is crucial for the future of the game.

"It is huge obviously. Living in this country especially they have a lot of options and things they can do after school. We want to think golf is important and teaches them not only a sport but values as well which is where the First Tee programme is pretty involved.

"We teach them respect, courtesy and manners like not talking or standing in front of someone when they are hitting, and a lot of sportsmanship as well.

"There are not many other sports that can teach you all those things within an hour or so each week.

"The idea is to get them hooked and then we bring them up through the grades."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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