Who knew a golf game could teach life skills?
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Parmalee Elementary School third, fourth and fifth graders are learning about respect, confidence, sportsmanship, perseverance and more as they also learn to hold a golf club, the proper stance and the swing. Third graders in the gymnasium on March 8 talked about the word of the day — confidence — what it means, why it’s important and how they can show confidence.
The life lessons are just as important as the golf lessons, both brought to the school by an organization called First Tee. The coaches, all of whom are golf enthusiasts who like to work with children, work through drills and take breaks to chat in small groups about self-esteem.
The nonprofit provides physical education classes in schools around metro Denver, teaching students that golf is a pretty easy game to learn, and it’s for all ages, according to Colby Cobb, program coordinator for First Tee Colorado Rocky Mountains. It started in Denver schools and has begun branching out, and in the summer, it offers classes on Denver golf courses.
Cobb began the lesson by asking the third graders about the previous day’s word, respect, and how they showed respect to others. They said they helped with chores at home, did what their parents asked immediately and helped in the classroom.
Cobb asked students to define confidence, and they responded with being brave, being proud of yourself and doing things you don’t want to do. Then it was on to the golf lesson, practicing a balanced finish, which is completing the swing.
Physical education teacher Heidi Schuette said she knew of First Tee through her son’s experiences with the program, and representatives presented the program at a professional development seminar through Jeffco Public Schools.
“So many students here go skiing, ice skating and hiking, but they are not necessarily introduced to golf,” Schuette said. “This program sparks their interest, and I can see improvement in their swings after five days.”
She said her goal in bringing the program to Parmalee was to teach students a lifetime outdoor activity that would enhance their health.
Students don’t hit balls. Rather, they hit plastic rings, and as their swings get stronger, the rings fly through the air. After everyone has a turn hitting five rings, they run through the gym to pick up the rings before another practice round.
Students had fun golfing, and some had golfed before — more than miniature golf.
Third grader Alina Lipsky explained that she already knew how to drive a golf cart, and she liked learning the proper stance and how to hit a golf ball.
Third grader Gemma Schart said she’s tried golfing on a real golf course with her dad.
Third grader Caanon Beals said he enjoyed learning the new skills, though he has golfed before at a course in Lakewood.
As the students swing the clubs, the coaches give a lot of praise: “Good finish.” “That’s a very confident swing.”
As coach Gill Howison talked to his group about golfing, he told them: “Think that the next swing will be the best swing you ever made. When you believe it will happen, it will happen.”
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