First Links awards grow-the-game grants

The American Society of Golf Course Architects announced the inaugural group of grant recipients of its First Links program, which helps golf facilities create learning areas for beginners.

The program is underwritten by the PGA of America, which provided $50,000 for the grants. The funds cover an ASGCA member's consulting work with a grant applicant, but does not pay for actual construction.

The program is designed to encourage facilities to modify an existing layout or use undeveloped areas to support beginners or "lapsed" players returning to the game.

There were seven recipients in the initial cycle of grants:

• Battenkill Country Club, Greenwich, N.Y.;

• Bunker Hill Golf Course, Medina, Ohio;

• Elliot Golf Course in Cherry Valley, Ill.;

• Inland Greens, Wilmington, N.C.;

• North Kingstown (R.I.) Golf Course;

• Paxon Hollow Country Club, Marple Township, Pa.;

• Val Halla Golf & Recreation Center, Cumberland, Maine.

Said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski: "The door is open to creativity among the industry, and First Links now becomes the gateway to retain players and to increase the enjoyment of the golf experience."

At Elliot Golf Course, the grant is being used to conceive a 3- to 6-hole par-3 course.

"The course will also allow us to have our lesson participants play a golf hole during their lesson, thereby honing their skills while they learn. We would not have been able to take on this project without the partnership with The PGA of America and the American Society of Golf Course Architects," said LPGA-USGA Girls' Golf coordinator Nancy Kauzlarich, who oversees the events at Elliot Golf Course. She has been working with ASGCA Associate Todd Quitno.

Courses interested in applying for the fall grants, should apply by July 15, through a grant application form available at asgca.org.

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