ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan men’s and women’s golf teams, in coordination with the Els For Autism Foundation, will host a #GameON Autism Youth Golf Clinic on Saturday, Jan. 31, from 12-1 p.m. at the Weisfeld Family Golf Center. The clinic will lead into the women’s gymnastics Autism Awareness Meet at 4 p.m. at Crisler Center.


The clinic is free, though space is limited to the first 16 boys and girls, ages 7-21, on the autism spectrum. Participants will get taught different aspects of the game (i.e. hitting, putting) by current players and coaches on U-M’s men’s and women’s golf teams. The clinic, which is run by professional golfer and Northwestern graduate Jen Hong, will feature 30 minutes of instruction and 15 minutes of bodily/kinesthetic activity.


“When Dave Kuzara from women’s gymnastics approached us about partnering with them in their Autism Awareness Meet and suggested the Els For Autism Foundation, it sounded like a perfect fit,” said U-M head men’s golf coach Chris Whitten. “We are expecting some special and excited young people at our facility for the clinic, and I know our team members are looking forward to spending some time with them.”


“We have a natural connection to the Els For Autism Foundation through golf, so the decision to be involved was very easy,” added U-M women’s golf head coach Jan Dowling. “We are honored to be giving back to the community by introducing the game of golf to a new group of young people.”


Participants in the clinic and their families will also receive complimentary tickets to the women’s gymnastics Autism Awareness Meet vs. Nebraska, held later that afternoon (4 p.m.) at Crisler Center. The Els For Autism Foundation is one of several autism groups that will have representatives on hand at the meet to answer questions and provide information.


The Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by professional golfer Ernie Els and his wife, Liezl, to focus on the issue of autism. The Els’ son Ben is profoundly impacted by the disorder which affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S.