Miami, United States: Developmental golf programming company SNAG (Starting New At Golf) and the Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation Department are running one of the largest youth golf programmes in the United States with the hope of introducing the game to hundreds of thousands of kids who otherwise would never have the opportunity to learn the difference between a ‘drive’ and a ‘putt’.
With more than 250 parks and 16 hub parks, Miami-Dade County has been a model for what other cities can do to introduce golf to a younger generation. But it takes hard work and dedication from community leaders and local professionals who know and understand the game.
According to Larry Levow, Director of Instruction at The Country Club of Miami and the golf professional spreading the gospel of golf to parks and schools in and around Miami: “The SNAG golf programmes will be so important to our community. In the long run this will change the way kids live. Through golf we are teaching new skills and life skills that will be with them forever.”
Levow, a PGA teaching professional, a member of the South Florida PGA Section and owner of The Whole Game Golf School, is a believer in the SNAG system and how easy it is to teach new learners (kids or adults) with the equipment and programming that has made SNAG so popular for 15 years.
Levow started contacting local parks and schools and he introduced SNAG as part of the Miami-Dade County’s Fit to Play, Life Skills, and Sports for Life programmes. In a few short years, Levow now has active SNAG golf training in 44 of Miami-Dade’s parks and he’s looking to add thousands more children in Miami-Dade County schools.
Levow credits Steve Jablonowski, Director of County Golf Operations for Miami-Dade County, and Renae Notage, Superintendent for Recreation and Programme Services, for their support.
The parks throughout Miami, such as Tamiami, Gwen Cherry, Goulds, Leisure Lakes, Rockway and Country Village, are doing what the PGA of America and other industry insiders are trying to accomplish as a global initiative. They are teaching the game to inner city youth, they’re making it fun and they also are driving home the importance of self-discipline, honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship.
In July, the Miami Mayor’s office under the direction of Mayor Carlos Gimenez launched the inaugural Mayor’s SNAG Youth Golf Challenge at three city run parks and invited boys and girls between the ages of six and 14 to compete in age groups on special short six-hole SNAG courses using SNAG equipment.
“The kids had a great time competing against one another and they took the event very seriously,” said Terry Anton, CEO of SNAG. “Our SNAG programming is now being used in more than 42 countries and 15,000 schools and golf facilities worldwide.
“And through our partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, we have been reaching thousands of kids in parks around the country who sign up to learn the fundamentals of golf. I like to say that we are a feeder system to the golf industry. Today’s SNAG players are tomorrow’s golfers who will be buying real equipment, booking tee times, taking golf vacations and joining golf clubs.”
In 2013, SNAG teamed with Jack Nicklaus to launch the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, a new national initiative that brings golf to the parks and makes it available for the first time as a team sport.