Program teaches adults with autism to play golf

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:

A new partnership between students is helping adults with autism learn golf.

The partnership is between FGCU’s occupational therapy program, the Community Autism Network and the PGA Golf Management Program. Its goal is to provide adults with autism education and skills to help them feel more comfortable and confident while golfing.

The program, titled Putting Along the Spectrum, is a 4-week long program.

Stephanie Maffeo recently participated in the game.

“That feels amazing,” Maffeo said. “I actually got to take my anger out on the ball!”

Teeing the ball up and swinging with confidence takes practice.

So does getting a job and being successful.

Golf offers an opportunity to develop social skills.

Maffeo grew up being bullied because she is on the spectrum.

“It’s hard to grow up because I didn’t have many friends,” Maffeo said. “I think that people with autism are made fun of and they shouldn’t be because everybody is normal and unique just the way they are.”

Dr. Maria Colmer, an occupational therapist at FGCU, said the goal is to get participants out of their shell and engage them in a leisure activity.

“It’s just such a great feeling,” Colmer said.

The PGA students get something out of this experience too by using technology to measure how each new golfer improves.

“It’s amazing,” said Andrew Maslar, a junior in PGA management. “It’s just quite the opportunity.”

Maslar said it was good to bridge the gap between golf and the real world and things that are playing out in our communities that we don’t often visit in relation to golf.

Because golf, like life, has no limits.

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