A sport for life

May 1, 2014
Morgan Gibbens (British Columbia Golf)

If there was ever any doubt that golf truly is a “Sport for Life”, Kathy Gook, director of British Columbia Golf’s school program for young kids, Playground to Fairway, can set the record straight.

14.08.15-P2F-853Students received P2F training with Kathy Gook Playground to Fairway (P2F) is a program directed at young children to help them learn at an early age, not only the fundamentals of the game of golf, but also physical literacy skills, such as balance and coordination, that are essential in any sport.

In four years of delivering the program around British Columbia, Gook has gathered some incredible stories about school-aged kids learning to golf.

“In Quesnel, I delivered the program at one elementary school, two of the children came out for a lesson in the summer and their Great Grandmother wanted to take them golfing,” said Gook.

“Not many other sports or activities provide the opportunity for such a wonderful bonding between great grandmother and her great grandchildren!”

One of the most incredible aspects of golf is that all can play the game, at any age. British Columbia Golf’s main goal through P2F is to expose children to golf early, hopefully igniting an interest in pursuing the sport, and if not, at least teaching kids the skills they need to become active.

Sport Program Leader at Pacific Sport Okanagan, Jonathan Przybyl, recently took part in a Playground to Fairway Certification Workshop delivered by Gook in Kelowna, and he agrees that getting kids active in golf early can help spark an interest in the game that could keep them active for a lifetime.

“With a lot of mainstream sports, once you get to a certain age it’s kind of hard to stick with them,” said Przybyl, during a phone interview, from Kelowna.

“I think golf is one of those sports that you can play all your life, and have some good friends that you can play with.”

A number of schools, recreational facilities and golf courses across the province have recognized the importance of the P2F program and the fun kids have participating in it.

For a one-day delivery of the program, kids make their way through nine stations, just like nine holes of golf. Each station teaches something golf specific or a fundamental skill. After an introduction to each “hole”, the students are split into small groups, rotating through the stations. The length of time at each station is kept short enough to keep young kids continually engaged.

The Certification Workshop on how to deliver the program is key to the spreading P2F and its values that reach far beyond learning to how to golf.

“We also want golf professionals to learn more about Physical Literacy and how important fundamental movements are to a child’s development,” explained Gook.

“With learning these fundamental movements, children can learn sport specific skills easier and possibly quicker.”

The program has been well received across BC by teachers, parents, and volunteers who have received training on how to deliver P2F programs.

Przybyl had a number of positive things to say about the training he and the other participants received from Gook in Kelowna.

“Kathy Gook is amazing and she’s very well suited to teach it to other people that are going to teach the program,” he said.

“She’s very good to get the information from and she deserves a lot of credit for what she’s doing and trying to build golf in BC.”

The program has been effective at exposing kids to golf in a safe and fun environment in schools and at training others to continue to raise awareness of the sport with young children.

But most importantly, it has been well received by the toughest critics, the students.

“Children really seem to enjoy the program, and they want more! With our set-up all children are engaged and participating with no standing in lines, they are all moving and playing,” Gook explained.

“School teachers particularly remark about their students engagement, especially some children who have challenges staying focused.”

A teacher from View Royal Elementary School in Victoria told Gook after she delivered a program that “it was amazing to see students who normally dread P.E. truly enjoy themselves and experience success.”

The immediate benefits of the program are obvious to those delivering it and taking part in the training workshops, kids are engaged and having fun, but it’s Gook who has seen the longer-term impressions that P2F leaves.

“I love going back into schools around Quesnel where I have been delivering for the past four years,” she said.

“They all remember me and get super excited that they will be getting their golf. That makes my day before it even starts!”

Contact Kathy Gook (Kathy@britishcolumbiagolf.org) for information on the Playground to Fairway program and how to become involved.