Students in McPherson schools will soon be getting a hands-on introduction to the game of golf, thanks to the Midwest Section PGA Foundation.

Students in McPherson schools will soon be getting a hands-on introduction to the game of golf, thanks to the Midwest Section PGA Foundation.

Starting New at Golf (SNAG) is an innovative program developed within the last three years that aims to teach students in Kansas and Missouri in grades K-8 the basic fundamentals of golf in a fun, safe and easy way.

Jeff Burey is the PGA Professional for the Midwest Section PGA and made a stop in McPherson Tuesday at Eisenhower Elementary School to help certify physical education teachers from all four of USD 418’s elementary schools in teaching SNAG.

Burey was one of the people who started formulating the program after noticing that the whole golf industry was in something of a downturn.

“And I think one of the reasons was because we are not reaching youths,” Burey said. “Particularly at the elementary age.”

According to Burey, the SNAG program breaks down the fundamentals of golf in a way that can be easily understandable to beginners, be they nine or 90. The game is broken down into four stages, each with names more deemed more descriptive of what the action being performed is considered.

Instead of putting, for instance, that particular stage is called “rolling.”

The clubs are simplified, as well, with students learning the basics on only two, the Roller, the traditional putter, and a Launcher, which combines the driver, a chipper and a wedge.

The students then are taught the basics using a various pieces of equipment, including a “swing clock” that identifies how far to swing based off the position of the numbers.

Additionally, teachers will work with an area PGA Golf Professional, who will be able to answer any questions they may have during the course of the unit. For McPherson, the PGA Head Professional at Turkey Creek Golf Course is John Hastert. Hastert is enthusiastic about introducing SNAG to USD 418.

“Most kids never get exposed to (golf),” Hastert said. “They never get the experience of hitting the golf ball and watching it flying through the air. After teaching junior golf for 25 years, I know that once they get that first ball in the air, they’re pretty much hooked. It’s just one of those games that’s really addictive.”

Burey said the equipment and training is provided at no charge to the schools, though community partners are recommended to help raise money for the Midwest Section PGA Foundation.

SNAG has already been taught to over 75,000 students in Kansas and Missouri and is being introduced to the Hesston school district.

“The response has been great,” Steve Curtain, Hesston Golf Course PGA Head Golf Professional, said.

“Right now, I’m just starting to set up appointments to really get the word out to the schools, but we’ve had a really great sponsor, Excel Industries, who paid for the equipment. I really feel this will be great for the community.”

After going through the instructional training Tuesday, Washington and Eisenhower PE teacher Allison Gullborg was surprised at how easy it was to learn the fundamentals of golf.

“I am not a golfer,” she said. “But I feel like I could teach the kids these basics and these basic concepts.”

Gullborg also feels the kids will react well to the course.

“There’s instant feedback,” Gullborg said. “They know the targets and they know if they are doing it right or not.”

Curtain is excited to start the program in Hesston, especially those children who wouldn’t normally be exposed to it.

“Golf teaches you a lot about life lessons,” Curtain said. “Things like working hard, sportsmanship. It’s a real ladies and gentlemen’s game.”

For Burey, who managed Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson from 2007 through 2011 and Wolf Creek Golf Links in Olathe for 26 years prior, he hopes the program will translate into a whole new generation of golfers.

“Hopefully, this will be a shot in the arm,” Burey said. “A little medicine for our industry.”

No time table was available as to when SNAG was going to be implemented into the McPherson curriculum.