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Stuart using golf to inspire excluded school children


PGA Professional Sam Stuart is working with local students who have been excluded from school and is using golf as a way to build their skills and keep them in education.

What is the name of the project and where did the idea come about?

The project is named Golf at the Ashbourne Center. The project came about as part of Walmley golf academy’s initiative of making golf more relevant and accessible to all in our local community. We believe golf has a lot of core benefits beyond just playing a game that can benefit a lot of people young and old. We looked at local organisations that could benefit from golf and the Ashbourne centre was highlighted to us as they had made contact with the golf foundation expressing an interest in trying golf with there students.

How can golf have a positive effect on children who are having various issues at school?

From my work with schools both mainstream and disability, I have noticed that the children that often excel at golf are ones who may not take to traditional team games as they struggle to deal with either failure of a teammate or the feeling of letting a team down. Golf offers the students time to consider the skills they are learning as it is a still ball game and they are solely responsible for the outcome. Likewise, thorough tri golf games we can introduce team play helping build sportsmanship and teamwork that is a very important life skill.

Why did you want to get involved with the project and what rewards do you get out of it?

We start all of our projects to help achieve our aim of making golf more relevant and accessible to our community. Personally, I feel I have had a privileged upbringing within a golf club that has taught me valuable personal skills I have taken into adulthood and my working life. If we can give them opportunities to other children that would not normally have the opportunity then I believe as a golf club we should do so.

How do the children react to your lessons and what do the lessons involve?

I believe that the key to a successful school tri golf lesson is fun! All participants (children and teachers) will have preconceptions of golf normally negative. It is my job to change these preconceptions. During our lessons, we will focus on a skill (putting, chipping, full swing) and develop a game around that skill. I give the children the opportunity to develop their own games and encourage them to think out how to integrate the skill. We will always have a winner or winning team as I believe it’s important for children to experience winning and losing. But the most important things at the end of every game regardless of the result the children shake hands!

Where have you taken the children on golfing trips away? How successful are these trips?

Due to the children’s special school needs and behavioural issues, we have kept our lessons to the school site. The children that have shown increased interest in golf due to the lessons and have improved their behaviour in school have been rewarded with an invite to the golf club to integrate into weekend Junior coaching.

How successful has the project been?

This project has proved very successful and very well received by the school students and teachers. Due to the schools high turn over of students we hope this project will always be relevant and we look forward to continuing.

How can other PGA Professionals use coaching as a catalyst for crime prevention?

PGA professionals have the unique opportunity to change the perception of golf. Golf clubs offer an environment of safety and relative calm that can really benefit a young person who is at a crossroads in life and could easily slip into a “gang” or general anti-social behaviour that inevitably leads to petty crime and potentially more serious crime as the child ages. If just one child applies focus to sport in our case golf to fill their time it can change their life at a golf club they will meet club members who can provide positive role models they may be missing at home.