SNAG Golf hits the mark in Sun City Center

By LISA STARK

SNAG contains all the elements of golf but in a modified form, making it easy for beginners.

SNAG contains all the elements of golf but in a modified form, making it easy for beginners.

SNAG® Golf made its appearance this month in Sun City Center, as eager seniors lined up to learn golf in a fun and easy way.  Coordinated by Francis Simmons of the Homewood Residence Facility at Freedom Plaza, the innovative golf clinic featured a colorful Wizard of Oz theme, complete with Dorothy, the Wicked Witch and yellow brick road.

“We wanted to do something different and fun to commemorate Homewood’s 16th anniversary,” said Simmons.  “The golf event was a huge success.”

Delia Skye was the certified SNAG instructor for the day, which included wheelchair participation, a putting contest, and specialized instruction designed to give seniors an easy transition into the world of golf.  Physical therapist Wendy Hudson was on hand to provide special equipment for stability and balance, as residents putted and chipped their way through the course.

SNAG stands for “Starting New at Golf” and is a golf development program designed for seniors and new learners of all ages.  According to Skye, SNAG contains all the elements of golf but in a modified form, making it an easy and fun way to learn to play golf.

The system builds on strong fundamentals of putting, chipping, pitching and full swing to develop playing ability quickly and effectively.  They use developmentally appropriate equipment and instruction that allows golf to be learned in nontraditional venues, including senior facilities such as Homewood, or in a gym, on a soccer field or on a beach.

Designed in 1995 by PGA golf tour professionals Terry Anton and Wally Armstrong, the SNAG method is meant to be a simpler, less daunting way to learn the game, so that new learners can effectively transition on to a full golf course. The program builds on the fundamentals of the different strokes and swings, and develops playing ability quickly. This immediate success, says Skye, is especially attractive to seniors, who sometimes feel threatened by the enormity of learning the game.

SNAG uses developmentally appropriate equipment that makes it possible to teach golf in nontraditional venues.

SNAG uses developmentally appropriate equipment that makes it possible to teach golf in nontraditional venues.

In its early years, SNAG was often mistaken as a toy or kids-only game and was sometimes dismissed as not a serious learning tool for a complex sport. But after a decade of educating the public, the program is now used in 42 countries, and is available at golf and country clubs, parks and recreational facilities, senior centers, retirement communities, and in outreach rehabilitation efforts for individuals with disabilities.

In addition to teaching seniors at Freedom Fairways, Delia Skye also teaches kids at  Thompson Elementary and Ruskin Elementary with the same instructional program.  Reportedly, more than 8,000 schools in the U.S. are using the SNAG system to teach golf to children. There is an online certification program for professionals wishing to become instructors, and the staff has grown to include PGA pros, teachers, college physical education instructors and school coaches.

“This is how golf should be taught to beginners,” said U.S. Open Champion Payne Stewart.  Jack Nicklaus echoed this sentiment, saying: “When a child reaches 8, 9 or 10, they’ve chosen their sports. With SNAG we can reach them early.”

The National Recreation and Parks Association partnered with SNAG to develop its G-Ball program, focused on children five and six years old. Using specialized instruction based on a child’s motor skills, G-Ball can be taught in any outdoor open space, with or without a golf course. According to parents, coaches, and park and recreation volunteers,  kids love the program and progress quickly to more advanced forms of golf. Because it uses a mobile teaching device, it is perfect for summer camps and after-school programs as well as women’s groups, senior programs, parties and special events.

For more information about SNAG golf, visit snaggolf.com.  For information on Homewood Assisted Living, located in Sun City Center,  call 813-279-1021.

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