Golf is one of those sports that can feel a bit tricky to explore, especially for kids. But did you know New Jersey has some affordable and accessible golf programs? In partnership with RWJBarnabas Health, the New Jersey Golf Foundation offers a chance for kids of all ages, levels, and abilities to take a swing at golf at a destination course in Bernards Township. Read on for how the programs works, who’s eligible, and how these programs further the RWJBarnabas Health mission of making communities healthier here in New Jersey. (featured photo credit: New Jersey Golf Foundation)
Inspiration Golf Range in Bernards Township is a golf hub for everyone
RWJBarnabas Health is a founding partner of the Inspiration Golf Range, a Bernards Township facility and homesite for New Jersey Golf Foundation (NJGF) programming. The NJGF is the charitable arm of the New Jersey PGA Section and is dedicated to making golf accessible for children, Veterans, and individuals with special needs. “We love that people of all ages can come here, learn golf, play golf, just hit balls if they want to,” says Justin Edelman, Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for RWJBarnabas Health.
Part of that opportunity is through the PGA Junior League, which allows kids to learn how to play golf as part of a team in a low-pressure, fun environment. “There’s been a long time stigma about golf where it’s for more of the elite, wealthy families, and that’s just not the case,” says New Jersey Golf Foundation Executive Director Chris Hunt. “The rules are relaxed, the atmosphere is relaxed, and it allows you to play and be a part of a team while still playing an individual sport,” Hunt adds.
NJMOM Mary Salaki says the program helped her son Luke find his sport after trying other more popular activities like soccer that just weren’t a fit for him. “Golf wasn’t on my radar because everyone talks about team sports like soccer and lacrosse. But when I heard about the program, we decided to try this, and he’s found his thing on the golf course—he lights up once he gets out here,” Salaki says.
Inspiring special needs children with every swing
Inspiration Range also serves as a training site for Special Olympics New Jersey Golf and hosts the Ernie Els #GameON Autism® Golf Program, which delivers transformative golf programming for individuals with special needs. NJMOM Melissa Panzarella loved the concept of the program, which is specially tailored for kids on the spectrum, encouraging them to learn golf skills while practicing concepts like communication, emotional regulation, and motor and social skills. “My son Skyler has autism and apraxia, and we’re always just looking for new things for him to try. He always liked mini golf, and this seemed like a perfect fit. I think it’s great because it’s a little bit more independent. There’s no competition all the time, and he can learn at his own pace,” says Panzarella.
Here’s how to sign up
Check out the New Jersey Golf Foundation for all their golf programs and more information on Inspiration Range. Pricing for the PGA Junior League starts at $99 plus a season coaching fee, and teams are broken down into two divisions: kids under 17 and kids under 13 years old. RWJBarnabas Health partners with the New Jersey Golf Foundation on their efforts, including off-the-course pieces like nutrition, wellness, and sports performance. These programs are a part of their commitment to health, wellness, and living an active and healthy lifestyle.
This post is sponsored by RWJBarnabas Health to help make every #NJMOM her healthiest.