The Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development is pleased to announce a major partnership for 2017 with the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation. “I cannot thank Jordan and his Foundation enough for their gift to help us grow our G.O.A.L.S. program,” said Brendon R. Elliott, PGA Professional, Founder and Executive Director of the Little Linksters organization.
G.O.A.L.S. stands for Golf Outreach Advances Life Skills. This simple acronym is be the cornerstone of a program offered by the Little Linksters Association. Elliott explains, “The objective behind the G.O.A.L.S. program is to bring the game of golf to all children regardless of disability. Golf teaches skills that will help children in every aspect of their life, and we see see a huge opportunity to adapt this sport for children regarless of any special needs. The demand is there and it is great. Now, community support is crucial.”
The generous gift will first create scholarships for youth to participate in G.O.A.L.S. program sessions at no financial cost. “Being able to support two areas that are very special to me, in one gift, was a really great opportunity,” said Spieth. “I have seen first-hand how impactful sports have been for my sister and how much she’s grown through these settings. I am really excited the Foundation will assist with scholarships to allow families access to this awesome outlet.”
This gift from the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation will also underwrite a Special Needs and Adaptive Youth Golf Coaches Training. Having the right people in place is something Little Linksters knows is imperative. With this generous donation, alongside new Program Director Danny Maples, the Little Linksters G.O.A.L.S. program is going to see a a mjor shift forward in their efforts.
“Through The Jordan Spieth Family Foundation’s generosity, we can continue to reach more children through the wonderful game of golf. I personally understand how many of these kids feel, as well as their parents, as they search for an activity to participate in and feel welcome.” Maples explained.
Danny was born with Spina Bifida and has relied on a wheelchair for mobility since birth. While his disability has presented him with several challenges throughout his life, he has always stayed very active and has always found ways to adapt and accomplish his goals. He has a very positive attitude, and hopes to inspire others to overcome any challenges they may face through positivity and perseverance. He played baseball and basketball for several years during his childhood and at the age of 7, he was introduced to the game of golf. He instantly fell in love with the game. At the age of 13, he played 9 holes for the first time, and his love for the game grew even greater. From high school through college, Danny coached youth baseball and worked with kids ages 3-14. During this time, Danny grew increasingly interested in golf and began playing several rounds per week every summer.
He first became involved with Little Linksters in February 2016 as a volunteer, and has taught weekly Little Linksters classes since September 2016. “When we started our original Little Linksters program in 2008, we knew then that golf was an amazing tool to teach very young children many aspects of life as well as a fitness and other areas of importance in their development; this new direction however is very special and we are excited,” explained Elliott.
“The idea behind the G.O.A.L.S. program is simple, use those core beliefs we have and reach out to children with special needs.
One of the first students with special needs to come to Little Linksters was, then, 9-year-old Marcus. “At a time that my staff and I were just starting early discussions about introducing a program such as G.O.A.L.S., we received a phone call from Marcus’ mother, Paola. She had signed him up for one of our sessions but was somewhat hesitant to let us know about him having Cerebral Palsy. She explained that he had tried other sports and activities but had not yet found ‘his thing’ or something that he could call his own.” Elliott explains.
“To see my son smile and feel proud when hitting that golf ball is what I pray he will feel in everything he does. To be able to enjoy and be proud of himself, regardless of the limitations, is what the Little Linksters has brought him.” Marcus’ mother explains.
Elliott explains how Marcus was the spark for implementing G.O.A.L.S, “[He] was the spark that ignited the passion for myself and my staff to take action on an idea that could be so beneficial for so many children.”
The grants received in 2015 and 2016 from The Alliance for Accessible Golf and The Jordan Spieth Family Foundation helped get the program moving in the right direction. Elliott could not be more thankful when saying, “The Jordan Spieth Family Foundation’s donation is significant and will help contribute to our goals in 2017 in a major way.”