Tee time with a twist


POSTED: Friday, March 20, 2009

Think of it as a cross between two, or maybe three, sports: The club (it looks like a golf club fused with a croquet mallet) hits a 2-1/4 inch ball (larger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball) into a cage (sort of like Frisbee golf).





        » Play the game: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and March 28 and 29

» Place: Lawn area, University Lab School, corner of University Avenue and Dole Street


» Admission: Free


» Call: 947-8889 or 956-8288




It's called ground golf, and it's the current sports craze from Japan.

Students in Kindergarten through eighth grade at the University of Hawaii Lab School have been trying it during physical education classes. The sport suits all ages, which is why it has grown popular in Japan, said Katy Bourne, the Lab School's P.E. teacher.

“;Younger kids can use a smaller course, because rewards come sooner. The middle-schoolers have fun trying to whack the ball up the hill,”; she said. “;We can create an adventure course that goes up the hill and through things.”;

The school is offering the public a chance to try ground golf in free sessions over the next two weekends.

“;I'm trying to introduce ground golf to busy adults and children as a short break from their computer-oriented daily life,”; said Jean Sakihara, a lecturer in kimono culture at the school. “;Nowadays everyone is spending so much time on the computer. I think ground golf is an ideal and healthy way to bring back 'family time' in our lives.”;

Athletic director James Burke, with help from Sakihara, wrote to agencies in Japan requesting a donation of used ground golf equipment. The Nonoichi-machi Ground Golf Association, Life Sports Promotion Foundation in Osaka and Okayama Ground Golf Association came through, and the students have been using the equipment since January.

Bourne said ground golf benefits eye-hand coordination, and both large- and fine-motor skills, as well as teaching teamwork. As in baseball or softball, the students also learn the importance of stance—how to aim at their target, Bourne said. “;They have to hit it hard, but need to be precise to get it into the cage.”;

The winner is the player who finishes with the lowest score for all holes. ”;Because we teach traditional American golf, we incorporate both par scoring and cumulative points,”; Bourne added. “;They really need to use their brains to figure out the running scores. The little kids just count.”;

Ground golf can also be customized, she said.

“;A traditional course has eight holes, but we've added as many as 22 holes. The ramps and obstacles in the way make it more fun—it adds more spice and keeps them on their toes.”;