Jan 18, 2013

Grassroots Effort by Educators Leads to an Innovative School Golf Course

© The Star Graphics 
Here in the US there's been much made, over the past several years, of golf's declining popularity.  In response, those who work in the industry... and those who care about the future of the game... have launched numerous initiatives to rebuild interest and attract new players to the sport, including the comprehensive, industry-wide strategic plan called Golf 2.0, which was introduced at this time last year.

Included was an ambitious campaign of public service announcements aimed at "women" and "couples", to encourage these two underrepresented groups to Get Golf Ready, with the PGA of America's nationally branded program which includes efficient, reasonably priced lessons, manageable goals and an emphasis on fun.  There are signs that the campaign is working as program participation is up 65% this year.  However, introducing young children to golf... and actually engaging them in the game... is what most agree is key to the sport's long term popularity. To that end the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's inclusion in Golf 2.0, the launch of PGA Junior League golf and the USGA's Junior Par initiatives, as well as ongoing efforts by The First Tee and Hook a Kid on Golf... not to mention the SNAG golf learning system... are all to be applauded.

In addition, there are many individuals... phys ed teachers and golf teaching professionals... and local organizations, working to promote golf in schools, which is something that could have a stellar impact on the long term growth of the game.  Nonetheless, due to the US sports culture, getting support for golf in elementary schools... and even in secondary schools... is often an uphill battle.


photo: Chan Tak Kong via thestar online  
Enthusiastic coach: Teacher Tee Lian Hong (right) giving 
17-year-old Anesha some golfing tips during training.
That's why I find this story so inspiring.  It takes place half way around the world in Malaysia, where high school teacher Surianarayanan Gavarasu's innovative four hole course design has allowed his school to offer and promote golf, along with the school's established sports.  SMK Bukit Indah High School is the first school in the region to have a golf course.

Each hole on the unique track is located at one corner of the school's football/rugby playing field, above the goalposts, to "...ensure that students playing football or rugby, as well as athletic events have no reason to run on the greens."  In addition, the schools gardener got involved and worked within the plan to build an underground drainage system and ensure that the greens would not become waterlogged.

As far as instruction is concerned, seven of the school's teachers are avid golfers and are committed to working with interested students to develop a competitive golf team encourage growth of sport they're passionate about. This is definitely a grassroots effort that that deserves more than a golf clap.