“Golf In Schools”
While basketball and floor hockey have been staples in elementary and middle school gym classes for decades, there is a new activity that is captivating children throughout the Garden State…golf in gym class. The Edison School District implemented the “Golf In Schools” program in 2011, and since inception, golf has become one of the most popular activities among students.
The New Jersey Golf Foundation (NJGF), the charitable arm of the New Jersey Section of the PGA of America (NJPGA), operates the nation’s largest “Golf In Schools” program, which will impact more than 110,000 boys and girls (K-8th grade) at more than 200 schools in New Jersey throughout 2014, including 15 schools in Edison. What Edison found particularly attractive is that golf is a sport that people can enjoy at many different ability levels, continuing long into adulthood. Exposing our students to golf really lays the foundation for a healthy activity that can last a lifetime. The program is fully funded by the NJGF at no cost to school districts, which was very appealing to the Edison School District. Led by Executive Director Chris Hunt, the NJGF has been an incredible partner, while taking an active role to ensure the growth and success of the program.
“Golf In Schools” is an initiative designed to introduce the game of golf to children by incorporating it into the physical education curriculum at elementary and middle schools. To support this initiative, the NJGF provides each school with an allotment of SNAG (‘Starting New At Golf’) golf equipment (grades K-5) and AlmostGolf equipment (grades 6-8), developmentally appropriate equipment that allows golf to be learned and played in non-traditional venues, such as a school gymnasium and limited-space outdoor areas.
The Edison School District currently operates one of the most successful programs in the state. With four middle schools and 11 elementary schools incorporating golf into the physical education curriculum, golf is played by more than 10,000 students in the Edison School District each year. The ability to introduce the game of golf to a diverse group of boys and girls from so many backgrounds has had such a positive effect on the Physical Education program in Edison Township. Teachers and students have fully embraced the program, and the feedback we receive from parents is truly refreshing. In fact, this program has inspired many students to participate in programs outside of school.
PGA Professionals from the NJPGA play an integral role in the success of the program, as they work closely with physical education teachers to ensure they are comfortable using the equipment and effectively presenting the golf curriculum to their students. In addition to conducting specific “teacher training” sessions, the PGA Professionals will visit the participating schools during physical education classes to further assist the teachers.
The NJGF’s “Golf In Schools” program, which has expanded every year since 2009, has become a model for all 41 PGA Sections across the country, and serves as a leading program to support the PGA’s growth of the game initiatives. While we never imagined we would be introducing golf programming in gym class, it’s been a remarkable change of pace activity that students are truly enjoying.
For more information on the NJGF’s “Golf In Schools” program, or to find out how to get your district involved, please visit www.njgolffoundation.com or call 732-465-1212.