Golf pros using game to teach youth about finances

J. Patrick Eaken

        What better way can there be to teach youngsters about finances than through a game?
        That’s what motivated golf professionals Dave Sanford and Brad Pietras to begin a program that not only helps youth learn the game but teaches them responsibility as well.
        Sanford, a Luckey resident, and Pietras, of Northwood, combined have over a half century of teaching the game behind them. Both give lessons at Crosswinds Golf Course in Perrysburg Township, where they also help manage the business.
        “What I’ve had for several years is the thought of the juniors — they do things that they are rewarded for, but they are rewarded with trophies, certificates, and plaques,” Sanford said.
        “I’m thinking, ‘Hold it. Why don’t we work with a local bank? Let’s create a way for them to start a savings account.’ So, we’ve talked to several banks.”
        It was GenoaBank which stepped in after an employee, who is a regular golfer at Crosswinds, took the idea to the bank’s administration. In a matter of a weeks, the program was finalized.
        “GenoaBank is excited to partner with Dave at Crosswinds Golf Club to promote this program to young golfers,” Genoa Banking Company President/CEO Marty Sutter said. “This is just another avenue for GenoaBank to partner with Crosswinds. Teaching youth the importance of savings is crucial to a strong financial future.”
        Many young adults today are facing almost insurmountable financial debt, so why not teach youth about the importance of finances at an early age? Sanford said families are already signing up, some two months in advance.
        “We’re excited about the program,” Sanford said. “Getting it out to the people and saying, ‘Hey, we’re developing the golfer, but we’re also developing an individual for savings and for other things that they are going to do.’ I have a financial planner who would like to get involved with it, and it’s something to introduce to the kids to regarding planning and stuff like as long as you present it so it doesn’t bore the kids. He had some programs that are already set up.
        “It’s something different. I feel like it will really take off — I feel that parents will grasp it as ‘Hey, this is good for them.’ They’re doing something and also learning the game of golf.”
        Putting, chipping for dough
        So, how does it work? It’s kind of an allowance that goes to the young golfers every time they achieve something on the course or advance their game. That money gets deposited and they also have the responsibility of managing a savings account.
        “They sign up and it’s a $60 a month program and they get two group lessons on Wednesdays and Sundays and they also get an individual lesson with Brad or me, so they get a one-on-one, too, and a $50 certificate for joining up their first month to start a savings account at GenoaBank,” Sanford said. “They add additional moneys to their account for every time they accomplish basically a task that they have to do.
        “For example, putting — level one, nine holes, they have to have 18 putts or less and that’s not easy. We have three putts that are three feet to 10 feet, and then we have three putts 11 to 20 feet, and three putts 21 to 30 feet,” Sanford continued.
        “Then, we go to chipping and putting — basically the same thing. They have to shoot, for example, 27 for nine holes. There will be three holes from 20 to 29 feet, and then 30 to 39 feet, and 40 to 50 feet. They have to chip it up, and putt it in, so basically its three shots per hole and 27 is the goal.
        “Then, we have approach shots of so many yards — we have short approach shots, middle approach shots and long approach shots, and basically they start playing the green golf course. We have an orange golf course set up, too, that they’ll play from, and they’ll have target scores that they will have for nine holes and for 18 holes.
        “So, again, they are rewarded with $5 that they take down and they deposit in their savings account, so it can continue as long as they want. We are trying to hold their interest in the game, but also create that, ‘Hey, I’m saving for something, hopefully college, which is what we would like to see. But I’m sure they have other things that they will want to have.”
        Sanford would like to see the program expand into the junior programs for the older youth, and even taken beyond the golf course — for instance, into the classroom. Again, he stressed, it’s an allowance for kids and nothing that is material enough that anyone will have to declare as a professional.
        “The only thing, eventually I would like to see it at the junior programs’ tournaments — see what people think of it. What if they finished in first place? Maybe we give them $10, second place $5 or whatever. We are rewarding them for playing in events and for doing well, so they are working on their game,” Sanford said.
        “But, there’s so much more that we can do. How about education wise? If you’re holding straight As you get a $5 certificate during that semester. It’s also encouraging studying, keeping their grades up and stuff like that for college and for their future. Those are things on the burner that I want to look at, too, because hey, they are going to have times during the winter when we’ll have contests for them, but what else is there to keep their interest? So, study — hit the books.”
        Sutter says it is another way for his bank to get involved in the community, too, and GenoaBank is hoping the program will be successful.
        “At GenoaBank, we share a common interest in supporting the people, places, and events that make our community such a special place to live,” Sutter said. “Whether it’s on the fields of play, in the neighborhoods, or for the cause of others — we are proud to play our part.
        “We’re a community bank — we were built to give back. It’s part of our foundation. We care about the community we serve because we’re not just in it; we’re part of it. That’s why we’re committed to making this area the best it possibly can be. We get involved. We volunteer. We're passionate about the causes we believe in.”


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