UTICA — Stance, swing, putt, grip and follow through are just some of the golf terms pupils in Utica and Newton elementary schools will be learning next year, due to a $6,000 grant from Muirfield Golf Course and All State Insurance.
The grant is the result of efforts by Pam Mercer, physical education specialist at Utica Elementary, and brings the “First Tee” program to the North Fork schools. “First Tee” is an educational program sponsored by the World Golf Foundation; the money donated by Muirfield will be used to purchase equipment such as modified clubs, balls and targets for the schools.
The clubs are not like regular golf clubs, Mercer said. They are geared for kindergarten through sixth-grade golfers. The targets have a Velcro-type covering. The balls are not as small as a golf ball, and not as large as a tennis ball, but are covered with tennis ball material. When they hit the target, they stick.
Mercer attended a “First Tee” training workshop to learn how to implement the program, which she said involves more than merely developing technical golf skills. The program, she said, has a life skills education component, and teaches nine core values: Honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
“I’m really excited to get the program in our schools,” Mercer said. “Golf is something our kids can play forever.”
Because North Fork is participating in “First Tee,” golf pros from Muirfield visited Utica Elementary on April 16 and worked with the students.