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Els for Autism Tees Off with Nationwide Pilot for Ernie Else #GameON Autism (TM) Golf

Els for Autism launches pilot series for its Ernie Els #GameON Autism (TM) Golf Program – a specialized program aimed at using golf as a life skills development tool for individuals on the autism spectrum

Jupiter, FL. (May 14th, 2015) – Els for Autism has, this spring, launched a nationwide pilot for the Ernie Els #GameON Autism™ Golf Program. The #GameON Autism Golf Program is aimed at developing life skills, encouraging social interaction, and promoting healthy living through golf for individuals on the autism spectrum.  Each session is designed to help build self-esteem and confidence in a fun, welcoming and supportive environment; encouraging participants to learn golf skills while practicing specific autism learning concepts.

The comprehensive program, which has been developed by Els for Autism with support from PGA REACH and thru a grant from New York Collaborates for Autism from the proceeds of Comedy Central’s 2012 Night of Too Many Stars, utilizes multiple evidence-based practices, identified by the National Professional Development Center on Autism. It consists of nine group lessons and takes four and a half weeks to complete with golf lessons taking place twice a week. Each session has a specially designed lesson plan that delivers golf instruction paired with specific autism focused learning concepts, including: communication, regulatory, motor and social skills.

Over 100 children in seven cities across the U.S. will take part in the pilot program that runs from the end of April through 2015.  In each pilot city Els for Autism has selected a host golf facility, golf partner, and autism partner who the Foundation will be working with during the pilot program. Pilot locations include: The Palm Beaches, FL; Northern New Jersey, NJ: Boston, MA; Princeton, NJ; Hilton Head, SC; Austin, TX; and Chicago, IL.

The pilot program is the first step to developing what began in 2013 as one-day, one-off clinics that ran alongside the Foundation’s annual Golf Challenge fundraising series, into a comprehensive and measurable program that can be, ultimately, rolled-out nationally and internationally. The data and feedback that comes out

of this pilot series will be used by the Foundation to fine-tune the program and ensure it is a robust supplemental intervention for individuals on the spectrum that can be replicated in other locations.

“To have golf used as an effective supplementary therapy for people with autism is a pretty exciting concept for me and I have been lucky enough to have seen first-hand the incredibly positive effect that the one-day golf clinics can have on participants. Our end goal is to develop #GameON Autism Golf into a comprehensive program that can be rolled out so that more individuals with autism can have access to this specialized program world-wide. The pilot series is a crucial step in helping us reach that goal.” Said Els for Autism Founder, Ernie Els.

He added: “We are so grateful for all the support we have received from the organizations and individuals that have helped us develop #GameON Autism Golf as an initiative over the past couple of years, in particular PGA REACH and New York Collaborates for Autism who have enabled us to develop and implement this pilot series for the program.”

PGA REACH Director, Scott Kmiec commented:  “PGA Reach’s ultimate aim is to positively impact lives through golf and this philosophy is what underpins the Ernie Els #GameON Autism Golf ™ Program. With one in 68 children now impacted by autism this program has the potential to ultimately reach a huge number of people. We are extremely proud to be working with Els for Autism and its partners on this pilot series, which we believe is an important stepping stone on the path to developing this into a national and even international program.”

“Sports and other recreational activities can be the bridge to creating meaningful connections for people with autism to others in their life. NYCA is grateful that Ernie Els and his foundation have used their expertise to teach people with autism how to play golf and thereby engage with others through the game,” said Ilene Lainer, President, New York Collaborates for Autism.

Els for Autism is thankful to all of the organizations and individuals that have supported the development of the #GameON Autism Golf initiative over the last couple of years to get it to this stage, in particular: the PGA of America, PGA REACH, The First Tee, U.S. Kids, The Honda Classic, New York Collaborates for Autism, Adams Golf and Southwest Airlines.

Donations to the Els for Autism Foundation can be made online at:

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Photography: Can be downloaded for editorial use at:


  • To donate by check: make out checks to Foundation Controller, 3900 Military Trail, Suite 200, Jupiter, FL 33458
  • To donate online visit:

The Els for Autism Foundation
Was established in the US in 2009 by PGA TOUR golfer Ernie Els and his wife Liezl (residents of Jupiter, FL) shortly after their son Ben (now 12) was diagnosed with autism. Els for Autism has foundations in the U.S., Canada, South Africa and the U.K. The Foundation’s overarching mission is to help people on the autism spectrum fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives.  In the U.S., to help fulfill its mission, Els for Autism is currently building a state-of-the-art Center of Excellence in Jupiter, FL, with a local, national and global reach and is in the middle of a capital campaign to finance the development. In addition, the Foundation recently introduced Ernie Els #GameON Autism™ Golf, an initiative focused on using golf as a life skills development tool.

The Els for Autism Golf Challenge

Spearheaded by World of Golf Hall of Famer and four-time Major champion Ernie Els, the Golf Challenge was first launched in 2011 as the largest charity driven, amateur golf tournament in history. The event series is one of the main annual fundraising initiatives of the Els for Autism Foundation. In 2015 it consists of 20+ regional events at top-rated courses across the U.S. and Canada from May through October with a Finale in Las Vegas in November. Full event schedule at:


Is the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. By aligning with the 41 PGA Section offices and charitable partners throughout the United States, PGA REACH positively impacts lives through golf. The programming created and supported by PGA REACH focuses on serving three key pillars: youth, military and diversity/inclusion. PGA REACH works daily to support the efforts of PGA Professionals nationwide and the PGA’s spectator championships to make a difference in local communities. PGA REACH programming ensures that regardless of your age or your background, cost will never inhibit one’s involvement and enjoyment of the game of golf.

New York Collaborates for Autism (NYCA)
Is a non-profit organization that strategically designs and launches innovative, one-of-a-kind programs to improve the lives of people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Using an entrepreneurial approach, NYCA seeks to transform the current landscape of autism services and challenge the status quo by creating programs and opportunities that empower people with ASD to live fulfilling and joyful lives. NYCA collaborates with national thought leaders, partners with leading community-based organizations, provides tactical expertise and critical early-stage management, and raises vital seed money. NYCA sees the possibilities and creates the path.