Teeing off for fun

Students to experience golf in P.E. classes

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS St. Francis physical education instructor Terri Westendorf helped show some Lenihan Intermediate School students a few putting activities at Thursday’s Iowa PGA ‘Swings with Kids’ event. The students, pictured from left, are Carter Giannetto, Meah Yoemans, Clay Goecke and Jesse Cruz.

For some students, the sport of golf isn’t something they’ve had a chance to experience; with it’s calculating, slower-paced nature, golf may be a perfect sport for some young athletes.

“We are going to start some lessons with all of our classes to teach the kids the basics, to teach them that golf is not only a sport, but it helps work on your character,” said Lenihan Intermediate School physical education instructor Casey Moberly at an Iowa Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) ‘Swings with Kids’ event Thursday.

With the contribution of a $5,000 grant from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation and more in individual donations, students at Lenihan, Miller Middle School and the district’s elementary schools will have more exposure to the sport.

“We’re excited to be able to be here in Marshalltown,” said Tess Goudy of the Iowa PGA. “You guys have a special thing here.”

Moberly said many students at the district may not have the opportunity to play or learn about golf, and the new equipment and upcoming P.E. units should familiarize them with the sport.

“It is fairly pricey,” she said of the sport. “We have our bags, we have some clubs, most of it is indoor-friendly.”

Moberly said one challenge about teaching golf at a young age is constantly changing equipment needs as children grow.

“We have some kids who are really short and we have kids who are almost 6 feet tall,” she said, adding the purchased equipment can accommodate students of all sizes across elementary and intermediate school.

Several Lenihan students expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of golf activities in P.E.

“I think we should have golf in P.E. class,” said sixth grader Jesse Cruz. “It’s a really good activity, a really good exercise.”

Fellow sixth grader Clay Goecke said golf can be played at many stages of life, not only as a young person.

“I like golf because it’s a lifelong sport and it’s just fun,” he said.

Two other Lenihan sixth graders, Elexus Ocasio and Meah Yoemans, said they want to try golf despite having little exposure to the sport.

“I think kids should play golf because they need to know there’s more out there than just football or basketball,” Ocasio said. “It’s a no-contact sport, which some kids are into.”

Yeomans said she may take up golf as a sport in high school if she ends up liking it.

Fifth-grader Carter Giannetto, the son of Elmwood Country Club Golf Pro Jay Giannetto, also said he’s excited for future P.E. golf units.

The elder Giannetto was joined by retired Elmwood PGA pro and life member Jerry Johnson, as well as American Legion golf pro Josh Hoglan, at Thursday’s event.

Marshalltown Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said golf is part of the “fabric” of the community, making the new golf units a “natural fit” for district P.E. instruction.

“Anytime you can introduce a sport or activity that is lifelong … you can enjoy it and get physical health enhancement out of it, it’s a win,” he said, adding places like the American Legion Golf Course, Elmwood Country Club, Collison Par 3 Golf Course and Wandering Creek Golf Course provide some local golfing opportunities.

Goudy said golf can teach lessons in honesty and courtesy to young players.

“We are excited about growing opportunities, getting [students] out to the golf course,” she said. “What better way to introduce [golf] to the kids than in the elementary schools and intermediate schools?”

For more information on the Swings with Kids program, go to https://iowapgafoundation.org/swings-with-kids/