Spotlight on | Golf

Golf offshoot SNAG aims to attract young players

 
 
Larry Levow, head pro at Country Club of Miami.
Larry Levow, head pro at Country Club of Miami.
Bill Van Smith / Special to the Miami Herald

Special to the Miami Herald

Golf knows it has a basic problem as more courses are being shut down than are being built. The simple reason for that: There are fewer people taking up the game.

Jack Nicklaus, golf’s greatest player ever with 18 majors, will frankly tell you what he thinks is wrong with the game. He breaks it down to three things.

The game is too expensive, too frustrating and takes too long to play.

Golf is trying to reverse that trend by enticing young children – really young children – into the sport.

Part of that effort is centered in South Florida.

Recently introduced into South Florida schools, parks and golf courses is SNAG golf. SNAG stands for Starting New at Golf. It’s a form of golf aimed at kids, or even adults, ranging from age 3 and up. Even some seniors have tried it.

And those seniors include Nicklaus (sorry to call you a senior Jack, but you are 73). But even at 73, Nicklaus knows lots about golf (no doubt) and lots about kids (another no doubt since he has more than 20 grandchildren).

One of SNAG’s biggest backers in South Florida is Larry Levow, the head pro at Country Club of Miami who has been teaching golf to kids for decades.

“It’s a great way to teach the fundamentals of golf,” Levow said of SNAG. “This can be a big deal. This is a way to introduce the game of golf to a demographic that hasn’t been introduced to it. We’re hopeful people will play golf from when they are a young child to when they can’t play anymore.

“SNAG makes golf easier for kids. We all know golf can be a frustrating sport, and we don’t want kids who are trying to learn the sport to be frustrated. That’s one of the purposes of SNAG.”

How does SNAG golf work?

The clubs are multi-colored, lighter and shorter. The club face is about five times the size of a normal club. There’s a target on the club head. Stars mark the grip so you put your hands in the right spot, and there is a target on the club face. The ball is the size of a small tennis ball.

Players are aiming at a Velcro target with a Velcro ball that will stick to it.

Finally, you don’t have woods, irons and putter. You have a launcher (the equivalent of a wood or iron) and a roller (the putter).

It can be played indoors, at parks and at golf courses. Even in the house. Pretty much wherever you want to play it.

Kids come come running when Levow pulls out the SNAG equipment, so there is no doubt SNAG golf is a big hit with the youngsters.

The big question is whether SNAG will induce an influx of new golfers.

The answer to that question is that only time will tell.

ALLIANZ RENEWS SPONSORSHIP

The Allianz Championship will not be going away soon.

The Champions Tour event renewed its sponsorship with Allianz, according to tournament director Ryan Dillon. This coming year’s event runs Feb. 7-9 on The Old Course at Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton.

Rocco Mediate, the 2013 champion, is scheduled to return to defend his title.

The tournament purse will be $1.6 million, and the event is the first tournament on theChampions Tour.

THAT’S A FACT, JACK

You have been trying to get that elusive first hole-in-one all your life – with no luck. So, there’s no question you should hate Coby Orr. At age 5, in 1975, Coby got a hole-in-one on a regulation golf course in Littleton, Colo., making him the youngest player to record an ace.

Read more Golf stories from the Miami Herald

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