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New Golf Pro Shop Vocational Lab Powered by ClubsHelp Debuts at The Els Center of Excellence®

In August 2023, the Els for Autism Foundation® opened the Stoops Family Adult Services Building at The Els Center of Excellence® campus, a 21,000-square-foot purpose-built building for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other related disabilities. The building expands programs and services for adults with ASD, including paid employment exploration and training. Some of these opportunities are within the golf industry, including both on- and off-course positions.

With the generous support of the ClubsHelp Foundation, the Els for Autism® introduces a new Golf Pro Shop vocational lab, creating opportunities for individuals with ASD to explore careers in the golf industry. ClubsHelp Foundation is a nationwide network harnessing the power of clubs and their resources.

“Through this collaboration, ClubsHelp will support and amplify the skills and talents of these individuals, using our network of clubs across the country to create employment opportunities,” said Rob Goulet, President of the ClubsHelp Foundation. “The Els for Autism staff has the experience and knowledge to train clubs on recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and retaining employees with autism. And we’ll work through human resources professionals at clubs to communicate the advantages of employing people with autism.”

The Els for Autism Work Experience program allows adults aged 18 and over who have exited the school system to engage in hands-on learning and develop skills related to employment.  Participants of the program in the new Golf Pro Shop vocational lab will learn to sort and tag merchandise, organize displays, operate point-of-sale terminals, and other retail-centric skills.

Many individuals with autism exhibit specific strength traits that allow for these positions to be a good fit for golf industry jobs. The main strengths identified from data revealed cognitive advantages, including attention to detail, creativity, focus, and memory. Additionally, individuals with ASD often thrive in repetitive tasks and inhibit personal qualities such as honesty and dedication. Jobs that require following a set of procedures and protocols are many times a good fit for someone with autism who is detail-oriented and prefers routine.

“This facility is so important for adults with autism and will help those individuals successfully transition to adulthood by providing employment services, therapeutic services, day training, recreation, and social activities,” said golf legend Ernie Els.

Els, along with his wife, Liezl, and Marvin R. Shanken, publisher and founder of M. Shanken Communications, founded the Els for Autism Foundation in 2009 following the diagnosis of the Els’ son, Ben, with ASD.

ClubsHelp Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, empowers golf clubs to become community catalysts. Originating from the generous spirit of Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown, N.J., during the COVID-19 pandemic, ClubsHelp has rapidly grown into a national initiative, receiving support from legendary golfers Jack Nicklaus and Els, as well as from some of America’s top clubs and corporations.

Uniting golf course owners, club managers, architects, and professionals to amplify clubs’ contributions to local causes and charities with a single mission: Care Locally, Unite Nationally. ClubsHelp provides clubs with tools and resources to enhance their impact within their communities and help during times of crisis. Visit or on social media at @ClubsHelp to join in transforming golf clubs into beacons of community support.

Information about Ernie Els #GameON Autism® Golf program, developed and provided by Els for Autism, can be found here