PGA pro puts autistic boy on fairway to success

    PGA professional Steve Furlonger has been praised by the mother of an autistic teenager for helping to boost her son’s concentration, confidence and communication skills by turning him on to golf. Anna Cliff of Redhill in Surrey, says that her teenage son, William, was shy and withdrawn before starting golf lessons at Steve Furlonger’s Golf Made Simple Junior Academy, based at the Redhill Golf Range.

    According to Anna, William is more sociable, friendly and approachable, thanks to the dedication and patience shown by Furlonger and his team of coaches. Meanwhile, the positive effect the coaching has had on the youngster has inspired them to write and publish a play to learn book, ‘Golf Made Simple for Kids’. Aimed at five to twelve year-olds, each of the book’s 64 pages features a hand-drawn illustration accompanied by a rhyme that complements the image.

    Furlonger stated, “The object is to get the reader to visualise what we’re trying to get across. To teach a child how to play golf requires a different approach than when teaching an adult. First and foremost it has to be fun or you will lose their interest. Secondly it must challenge their skill and stimulate their mind with suitable games. Our book not only teaches the child the golf skills through its unique picture and rhyme format, we have also incorporated at the end of each chapter a number of extremely fun games to challenge and test their newly developed golf skills. We have made golf fun!”

    William, a Queens Park Rangers fan who wants to be a train driver when he’s older, suffers from mild autism and has learning difficulties, which can affect his confidence and ability to interact with others. But Anna says that due to Steve’s unique approach, William has blossomed and now is “so chatty he doesn’t shut up!”

    Recalling the day, which began the turnaround in William’s life, Anna, a school special needs assistant and school meals supervisor, said, “Steve and Phil came along and gave some of the children at school a golf lesson and William enjoyed it so much that we joined the academy. I didn’t notice much of a change in William at first but over time, he has become more sociable and approachable and isn’t so shy. Before having lessons every Sunday, William used to be easily distracted but golf has really helped to keep his attention and enabled him to focus better.”

    Golf Made Simple for Kids retails at £12.99. More at: