Mather, CA – On Wednesday, September 6th, Mather Golf Course opened its doors to a group of eager third-grade students from the Thomas Edison Language Institute for an unforgettable educational experience. This event marked another successful chapter in the ongoing partnership between Mather Golf Course and the First Green program, which is designed to provide unique STEM learning opportunities to young learners. The day was filled with engaging activities and informative stations, all aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of golf course maintenance, environmental stewardship, and golf fundamentals.
The event commenced with a warm welcome from Mather Golf Course's General Manager, Lance Fong, and Course Co's Director of Environmental Management, Gary Ingram. Gary Ingram, a dedicated advocate of the First Green program, has a rich history of involvement in similar initiatives, including the Oakland Turfgrass Education Initiative (OTEI) based at the Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland. Throughout the day, the students were divided into groups and rotated through six different stations, each offering a unique lesson and hands-on activities related to golf course management and sustainability.
Station 1: Moisture Management – At the first station, the students met Ty, a groundskeeper from Mather Golf Course. Ty explained the importance of monitoring moisture levels on the golf course. The kids had the opportunity to use a moisture meter to measure moisture levels on the practice green and even learned how to apply water to areas with low moisture. A fun guessing game involving the moisture meter made this station both educational and enjoyable.
Station 2: Cup Cutting Station 2 was all about the art of cup cutting, led by Mather's Superintendent, Logan Bloom. Logan emphasized the significance of moving pin positions for golfers' enjoyment and challenged the students to assist in cutting the cups on the practice green. Their enthusiasm and engagement in this hands-on task were palpable.
Station 3: Putting Clinic Head Pro, Vinny Jacobs, led the third station, offering the young participants their first glimpse into the world of golf technique. Jacobs demonstrated proper putting form and allowed the kids to try their hand at rolling putts on the practice green, offering a fun break from the more technical stations.
Station 4: Water Experiments – Gary Ingram took charge of the fourth station, where the students conducted various experiments related to water's role on golf courses. Concepts such as atoms, molecules, cohesion, and adhesion were explored through hands-on experiments, leaving the kids excited and enlightened.
Station 5: Soil Exploration – The fifth station delved into the composition of soil and how to identify its components. Students had the chance to shake soil samples and observe the different components. They then used a soil probe tool to take samples from the practice area, which were further analyzed using a soil shaker, making for a highly educational experience.
Station 6: Grass Types – The final station introduced the students to different types of turf found on golf courses. Four grass samples were presented, each described in detail regarding its preferred environment and interactions with other grasses. The students were then challenged to identify these grass types on the practice fairway, putting their newfound knowledge to the test with guidance from on-site staff.
The event was an undeniable success, providing young students with a holistic view of golf course operations while incorporating STEM education principles. For many of these kids, this was their first time on a golf course, and the experience was made even more special by the passionate industry professionals who dedicated their time to educating and inspiring the youth.
By continuing to host programs like this, Course Co exemplifies its commitment to building community relationships and promoting environmental stewardship education. These initiatives not only connect the community with their local golf courses but also enrich the educational experiences of the area's youth, fostering a love for golf and an appreciation for science and sustainability.
Mather Golf Course's partnership with the First Green program serves as a shining example of how golf courses can play an active role in fostering education, environmental awareness, and community engagement. It is through such efforts that we ensure a brighter future for both the sport of golf and the young minds that will shape it.