‘But I want to try it—please?” How many times have parents and guardians heard this phrase uttered by their curious children? With TGA Golf and Tennis of Mercer County, they can finally say “yes” to their children. This decade-old organization brings a real-time teaching and learning style to golf and tennis. The mission of its work is two-fold; first, to expose children to these life-long sports in a fun, energetic atmosphere. Second, to provide the equipment and set-up, so that parents and children do not have to spend endless time traveling to the activity. With TGA, the course and court are brought right to school.
“The greatest part about what we do,” says Stuart Woody, owner of TGA Mercer, “is being part of that few seconds of pure glee in the kids’ eyes when they have ‘gotten it.’ Sometimes it’s a putt that they finally sink, while other times it’s a beautiful shot that’s resulted from work and concentration — but their increased self-belief is what makes this whole project so incredible.”
Traditionally, tennis and golf have not been sports that were accessible to working parents and/or to children of parents who don’t already participate. Over the long run, this greatly limits the future of golf and tennis, when the pool of kids involved is so small relative to soccer or baseball or basketball.
TGA is all about reversing that trend. “If practically every kid has kicked a soccer ball or tossed a baseball, then it follows that they should have a chance to get their hands on a tennis racquet and a golf club as well,” says Woody, when talking of their company instruction and programs.
Because TGA offers a “course in a bag” or a “mobile court” the staff and teachers are not limited by location. Classes can be done during gym time, at birthday parties, during summer camps, at corporate events while parents are in meetings, at local recreation facilities, in someone’s cul de sac — and, of course, as an after-school enrichment program, where it all began over a decade ago. Also, equipment is provided, so parents and students don’t have to concern themselves with the proper fitting of equipment, or investing in gear for a sport that may not be a long-term pursuit.
TGA is lucky enough to have scholarship opportunities, as well as a foundation arm so that these sports are not just taught in particular areas or for children in more affluent communities. “We are committed for the years to come to getting as many students as possible involved with golf and tennis,” says Woody. “There is no limit to what we can do with the cooperation of parents, students, coaches, and school administrators. Nothing can be accomplished alone, and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received so far.”
The program goes beyond traditional sport camps and classes in that it allows for children to make connections between golf and tennis with academic subjects, such as physics and history, so often the students are learning and don’t even know it. It also integrates themes such as integrity and team building so that children become comfortable shaking hands, making eye contact, scoring for themselves, explaining the rules, and more.
“We’ve heard a few great stories of kids who are barely reading quizzing their family members on rules and trivia,” says Woody, “and it’s a blast to see the children so proud of themselves and owning the experience. We’re excited about what we’ve done, and we’re eager for what’s to come.”
“The students we’ve taught have been tremendous, and we’ve enjoyed seeing notable progress in their skills, as well as in their teamwork and listening. When we hear from administrators and parents that tears have been shed for missed classes, that’s the best news yet!”
Visit www.playtga.com/mercer, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 609-558-7342. See ad, page 23.