While the top golfers in the world competed just minutes down the road in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., at The Honda Classic, Jack Nicklaus ventured over to a public park field, where he and son Gary provided insight and input into course design, methodology and progression for the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues (JNLL). The leagues, created to attract children to the game and which will be established in public parks and recreation facilities across the country, utilize SNAG® equipment in their instruction and team-concept competition for boys and girls, ages 5 through 12.
SNAG Founder Terry Anton, who is overseeing development of the JNLL, was thrilled to discuss the concepts of SNAG programming and equipment with the Golden Bear, as they experimented with the various layouts that will be used in the leagues.
“Mr. Nicklaus wants the children to be as prepared as possible when they get to the golf course,” Anton said. “We all had a great time playing.”
The Golden Bear added, “The program graduates from simple to more challenging, and I had fun with it—instantly. I got a hole-in-one on my third hole. We want kids to experience similar success and fun through golf, so they can enjoy the game now and hopefully for a lifetime.”
Jack and Gary played three holes for the layout designed for 5 and 6 year olds, and then played three holes for the more advanced design aimed at 7 and 8 year olds. This is where the father-son duo each aced the same hole, exchanging high-fives and big smiles.
All components of the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues are based upon age-appropriate skill progression, including the play component. Distance between holes increases and the holes become more advanced, even including hazards.
“We agreed on virtually all areas of the JNLL play component and the skill progression for the kids at each age level,” Anton added. “These leagues will not only have the guidance of the best player in golf history, but also the best equipment and programming for new learners in golf. What a powerful combination for the next generation of golfers!”
Also in attendance during the test run were members of the PGA of America—Bob Baldassari, Director, Player Development; Stephen Judd, Director, PGA Charities; and Scott Kmiec, Senior Director, PGA Foundation—as well as executives from the Nicklaus Companies.
Monies raised through the nonprofit GOLF Foundation will support the leagues, and a partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association will help bring them to public parks across the United States. To make a contribution, to support the new program, or to learn how to start a league in your area, visitwww.thegolffoundation.org.