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WSJ: Jack Nicklaus And SNAG

Back in January at the PGA Show, Jack Nicklaus floated some ideas about golf in parks, youth leagues and some other peculiar sound ideas.

But after reading John Paul Newport's story on the Golden Bear's endorsement of SNAG Golf, the ideas become crystallized and make a lot of sense. Throw in the nagging issue of injuries in football (something not touched on here), and there seems to be a genuine opportunity to start kids in golf at a young age thanks to the concept.

Although SNAG golf can be played in any large open area, like a park or a beach, the Nicklaus Learning Leagues will use municipal soccer fields. A six-hole course takes less than 30 minutes to set up. Each player carries a rubber tee pad, to elevate the ball before hitting, and two clubs. One is the "launcher," which kids can use to knock a ball 40 to 50 yards. The other is the "roller," a putter equivalent, for the delicate shorter shots that finally "snag" the ball to an aboveground cylinder at the base of the flag. This so-called Flagsticky is covered in adhesive material.

The Nicklaus Leagues will build on a two-year pilot program in 15 cities run by the National Recreation and Park Association. For 5- and 6-year-olds in the Nicklaus Leagues, the emphasis will be on whacking the ball around and having fun, with snacks essential. Seven- and 8-year-olds will get more instruction and compete with partners in best-ball format against other teams. Nine- and 10-year-olds will use slightly smaller, Super SNAG clubs and balls and compete as a team with stroke-play scoring. Plans are afoot for leagues involving older kids and even adults.

There is also this supplemental video feature with the story.

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Reader Comments (16)

I'm always complaining that golf is too expensive. SNAG isn't. I'm always saying golf is inaccessible for beginners but SNAG, isn't. I'm always saying golf is too slow - SNAG isn't! It's easy to play 9-holes in under an hour. SNAG is the ideal game for family fun. Come to think of it - SNAG suits older people who have never played golf previously also. SNAG reduces golf to the absolute basics. Minimum instruction is required. The equipment is designed to make the golf swing intuitive.
12.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
The way this sounds, you could do the same thing on frisbee golf courses.
12.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric
@Eric: Frisbee is for slow moving's 'reeferred' to as DISC golf to those who actually go out and and throw em around a couple times/wk.

It's about 4 or 5 yrs too late for Jack to now start siging the praises of the SNAG's been around for at least 10 yrs...just my $0.02

That said, it is probably THE BEST way to introduce new golfers to the game. We have been using the system here for about 17months. I do not usually spend much time teaching young Czech speaking kiddie newbies under 10yrs old (Language barrier is pretty wide...esp for ankle biter sized rug-rats)...BUT I use 2 or 3 of the SNAG teaching aids for almost everybody else, regardless of age/ability. The Snapper and Snag-Azoo are handy and is the clever pentagon colour sided grip which works for RH and LH golfers.

But the best part is that if given a group of 3 or more beginners, I am 90% less nervous that someone will brain another with a regular 7iron and/or Rock-Flite range ball. The worse case scenario with plastic clubs and dead tennis balls is a nasty bruise and some tears being shed. Overall, a good trade off compared to the usual same-ole-same-ole teaching systems.

SNAG should be 100% mandatory for 3 months for anybody who wants an official hdcp if I called the's basically idiot proof.
12.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
I kinda like the fact that golf isn't as easy to pick up as tennis or basketball. I totally like the idea of getting kids to play golf but I think they should play golf and not some variation on the game that pretends to be golf. Its the reason we are all on this site in the first place!
12.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Instead of putting the SNAG, how about putting the CHALLENGE back in Golf?
12.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Naccarato
The first time I ever laid eyes on golf equipment I knew I was in love. It was standard equipment for the era (1970s).

I just don't see much potential for SNAG - it would not have appealed to me as an 8 yr old. To me it would have just looked like a bunch of plastic shit.

I also started playing tennis around 9 yrs old. Early on I remember a few outdoor courts designed for paddle/wiffle ball. That it basically SNAG for tennis. I remember playing it once for 30 mins. It just did not have any appeal although it was much easier to have long rallies with it.

From my memories as a kid, I just don't thing SNAG is going to breed much in the way of future golfers. Golf is a niche sport and you either find out you love it (while playing with normal equipment) or hate it and never really bother with it again.
12.8.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
What golf needs is more public courses where kids can spend all day playing for a reasonable price, eating hotdogs, and futzing around on the putting green when the course is full. They'll learn how to play, and, just as importantly, how to act like human beings around young and old alike. The axis of Nicklaus/Woods/Jones/Fazio could make this happen, along with the PGA, PGAT, and USGA. Might not be big money to be made, but the Game of Golf would benefit. And that would include the same principals, and their many children who need jobs in the Business of Golf...Neither SNAG nor the First Tee will do it.
12.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
KLG said "What golf needs is more public courses"
Definitely but let's try simple undulating fields with grass the length of "first cut" rough. Clean and place on a tee might be allowed. The greens might comprise of small astroturf circles (pinned down at the edges and moved every day) with a real hole and flag in the middle. Very very low maintenance costs (one mow weekly) but still golf.
Good to learn the Flogton lobbyists are earning their keep
12.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNRH
KLG- don't forget caddie programs to introduce kids to golf while teaching other valuable life skills, kids make a little money along the way. Personally, I think the First Tee should have a caddie program as integral part of their program.
Hmmm, kinda surprised at the # of folks who give SNAG a thumbs down. For those of you keep in mind a few things:

1) Caddie programs for young kids are long dead...blame the new pop culture/instant gratification generation mindset. Kids want instant results and SNAG makes it easy for kids who may be only half interested in learning the game...the bigger clubheads and balls make it easier...much like learning how to ride a bike with training wheels or swimming w/ water wings...good for a few months or up to a year but then it's time to get some big boy clubs.

2) As a teacher, the safety benefits FAR outweigh the "tackiness" of using toy like equipment. Regular golf clubs in the hands of not-so-focused kids these days can be dangerous. Clubs are in essence "weapons". SNAG removes that element completely, allowing for me to focus on the actual technical golf lesson part.

3) They have a padded velcro suit/helmet thingy that looks like you could use it to train attack dogs get one of the bag rats/assistants to put it on (the hotter the day the better) and run 30yds in front of the kids during golf camps and have try a 20+ gun salute...helps timing and puts smiles on their faces which is all that matters in the end in my line of work.

4) And lastly, anything that gets new golfers engaged and excited to go out and send a round ball towards a target using stick-like-implements IS Golf....just another flavor.

Give it a try with your starte sets are about 150 bucks for a basic individual boyish blue or girlish pink. Start the grandkids off right and after one season they will be smacking real clubs and balls like little Ben Hogans/Mickey Wrights.
12.9.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Johnnny is right. This is a way to get frog chasers going on the game- something an individual can do- the ''don't need a team'' is a big deal as they get a little older-

I'm amazed that soccer replaced baseball to so many for so long, but it STILL requires several people to have a game, unless you are reallly in to chasing a wayward ball a lot.

This give a kid the feel of golf. Anything to get that feeling going.

By the time they are 10-12, the ''players'' will get going on the real deal.
12.9.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
KLG, where I live how cool would it be if Merion opened its doors to kids in the late afternoon hours when the setting sun is sometimes the course's only companion! We don't need more public courses we need more compassionate golf gatekeepers who will adopt a model the way kids in the British Isles are brought up on the game. Charge 'em enough to cover some grass seed for the divots and let 'em enjoy possibly the 2nd most historic site in Philly.

SNAG is for gym class.
12.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
That would be something, AC! Totally out of character but what a wonderful world that would be. Incidentally, Mrs. Ghost and I finally saw the first most historic site in Philly exactly 2 years ago. 20 degrees and a 30 mph wind will get into Independence Hall with about 15 other people. Saw the Liberty Bell with no one else in the room. Unless, of course, the first most important historic site in Philly is that statue of Rocky. Didn't have time to get to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Great movie.
12.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
No Pats or Genos? Good for you!

Why is golf here so afraid of being out of character? Isn't it just a game? Who here decided to re-invent the character of golf in this country anyways when it was being imported from Scotland and the UK? Why does Jack and everyone else think golf is so broken that it has to implement and or invent a panacea? Maybe you can reccomend a book?

In the mean time I will keep after it with my second set which consists of a handful of pre-1935 hickories! I am smitten with the click of those clubs!
12.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
@Amen: Exactly correct!!!! SNAG can also be used indoors at a typical school gym during the snowy months. Little to no chance of breaking any glass type objects...try that with regular golf clubs/balls if you so wish just make sure to top up your insurance.

I may be coming off as a SNAG evangelist....I'm not though. I simply know that it is (one of) the most efficient way to learn proper fundamentals while minimizing risk(s). It's not a magic bullet, but does the job quite well.
12.9.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz

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