(Published with the approval of Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association)
Interested in how YOU can start a Jr. Blind Golf program in your area? Checkout the recommendations below by the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association. If you would like a representative from the USBGA to contact you about Jr. Blind Golf, please email us.
1- A minimum of two committed persons is needed (5 is ideal). A rough estimate of the time spent on the MABGA JUNIOR PROGRAM is about 25 hours a week.( 5 people, 5 hours each) These persons do not have to be teachers or professionals, just any kind of golfers who love to help kids.
2- A friendly and cooperative relationship with the executive director of the local section of the PGA is important. The PGA connection provides not only financial support but also lends credibility within the local PGA community especially when asking PGA professionals to volunteer to give lessons.
3- A friendly connection with a local PGA professional is also necessary since this individual will make contact with the local PGA professional who will give the free lessons to your blind students. Is also important to have a back-up person for this position.
4-The parent must supply you with the name of the child, date of birth, address, home and cell phone number, e-mail address, name of mother and father, right or left handed and five golf courses near their home with phone numbers (can be public or private) in order of their preference. Our pro then contacts the first course on the list to enlist that pro to teach the child. Usually a lesson every other week, but that can be worked out between the pro and the family. Everything is free. All this info is part of the child’s bio including the date and size of the golf set given (ex. 32” rt. 6-12-14).
5- If there is a local or nearby school for the blind in the area, a chip and putt course with 3 to 9 holes can be built( a separate paper will explain how to build such a course). This school will provide an anchor and credibility for this program. At our anchor course, we use a cayman golf ball( goes about 2/3 the distance of a regular ball and does not hurt as much if it should hit a child.
6- Connect with the state commission for the blind. ( not every state has one per say, but they have a comparable organization. This will help to get the word out to families with blind children.
7- Many counties also have organizations which offer support to blind individuals. Connect with as many of these as you can to provide them with information about your plan for a golf program and then be sure to give them an up-to-date schedule of all of your events via email. A reminder follow-up phone call is also helpful.
8- Many cities have golf groups ( for example GAP) Golf Association of Philadelphia. It is a great source for volunteer coaches. Other examples are local high school, and college golf teams.
These are needed when you have golf clinics and need to provide a coach for every child since the PGA pros, who do the teaching, are not expected to attend.
9- Local golf courses might be another resource for volunteer coaches. They may also be able to provide you with golf clubs, balls and bags which have been lost or discarded.
10- The PGA has a “CLUBS FOR KIDS” program which is another resource. Your program should never have to buy clubs if you make contact with multiple organizations and keep in touch.
11- Someone in your group needs to learn how to fit clubs for children. It is not a difficult procedure and it can be learned very quickly. The younger children get 7 clubs, a bag, 24 balls, 10 tees, a ball marker and a tool for repairing the greens( the child needs to be taught how to do this.). A typical set includes a 32” putter, a 32” pitching wedge, a 32” 9 iron, a 33” 7 iron, a 34” 5 iron, a 37” 5 wood and a 33” driver. Depending on your inventory, different irons and woods can be interchanged. We have found that the one wood works better for little men and women when cut to a 7 iron size. As the children grow, they trade in their clubs, usually every 2 years, but it is important that your leader check the children at each outing to make sure they are using the proper size. Eventually they will graduate to adult size clubs. Usually 14 are provided; but a child who has real interest in the game might get 15 or more clubs just as long as he or she is made aware that only 14 are allowed during play. They have to learn which 14 go for that day( for example, the lob wedge or utility wood may replace the 3 or 4 iron). All the equipment is eventually theirs to keep.
12- Adult bags are usually donated; different size bags for children are purchased by the organization. Bag prices have increased in 2014, however, the “ STICKS FOR KIDS” may help. You have to apply for a grant to get bags and other items from them. GCBAA( Golf Course Builders Association of America), 727 “O” Street, Lincoln, Ne. 68508. The contact person is Lori Romano, 402-476-4444. Her email address is email@example.com. GCBAA provides 5 clubs and a bag and your organization can always add a 5 wood and 5 iron to complete the set. The documentary made a favorable impression on Ms. Romano. Hopefully their board will feel the same. They have used up their financial resourses for 2014, but we are in line for 2015.
13- Thank you notes must be sent to all contributors of clubs, bags, money. This can be used as a tax write off. Examples are attached under separate cover.
14- MABGA currently has 11 clinics a year, two at the Overbrook School for the Blind, five at Walnut Lane Golf Course, and four at F, D. R. Golf Course( the last nine are coordinated with the First Tee program. We try to encourage integration between the groups with the kids mentoring each other. The two clinics at Overbrook are held in the spring and fall and each blind child has a sighted coach. The children play Overbrook’s nine hole course, participate in 2 closest to the pin(chipping), a putting contest, and a 2 person scramble. Ten trophies are awarded at a cost of 100.00 and lunch is included for all. After each clinic, every child receives a prize(usually the best the dollar store has to offer). Pictures are taken of the children and sent to the parents with a note. There is a sample schedule attached. In case of rain, an in-door activity must be planned. An example is attached
15- Schedules are mailed to parents and volunteer coaches at the end of March. Schedules are also sent to all organizations with whom we have had contact. In order to maximize attendance, calls are made to parents and coaches one week before each clinic to help attendance. Individual emails are sent to each parent four weeks and two days before each clinic.The charge persons are always emailed a list of all children and coaches who are participating 2 days before hand.
16- Three to four parents are called each week to discuss their child’s progress until all parents are contacted. The PGA coach(teacher) is also called so the student’s progress can be discussed. In some cases and for many different reasons, parents do not take their child for lessons. This is addressed and corrected on an individual basis.
17- The BUNKER CLUB, is an extension of the Philadelphia section PGA which is made up from retired PGA professionals. They could be a tremendous resource for putting together a new “MABGA” type group that would cater to blind and visually impaired children in their area. No one would have more expertise than these men and women. Another source could be the LIONS CLUBS since they are an international organization helping to improve vision.
Our motto when we first started our program was that no child, whether visually impaired or blind should be denied the opportunity to learn the great game of golf. Al Balukas, our PGA pro said that if only one child benefits from this program, it is successfu