Springwood International students learn to play golf

Published 7:24 am Friday, June 12, 2020

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During the 2019-20 school year, the Springwood International program had 31 students from several countries around the world. Of those students, 22 lived at the Springwood International House. Those students are usually able to go home at the end of the school year but COVID-19 threw a wrench in that normal plan.

As restrictions are lifted around the world, these students are slowly able to start heading back to their home countries and their families.

As of Thursday, only 10 students are living in the International House. Nine of the students are from Vietnam, while the other student is from England. The student from England will soon be leaving Lanett and will begin his collegiate basketball career in Kentucky.

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The nine Vietnamese students will all be returning to Springwood in the fall, and with flights into Vietnam grounded, for the time being, those students are here to stay.

With that change, Springwood has found ways to give the students time to do different activities to keep themselves occupied.

They’ve gone to West Point Lake, taken art classes and Auburn for a picnic as some of the activities.

“When COVID-19 happened in March, we stopped doing online classes and went to virtual school. We were very serious about sheltering in place with the international students,” said Ann Hixon, Director of International Student Program. “We had a very protected environment in the house and on campus. At the end of the school year, we gradually lifted a little of that and have been trying to get out and about a little bit.”

For the last three weeks, the nine students have gone across the street to the Point University Golf Course for golf lessons on Tuesday and Thursday that last about three and a half hours.

“Golf is something that we can do and socially distance pretty well,” Hixon said.

Originally, Dixon was thinking that they would able to get the students onto the course for a couple of lessons, but Springwood golf coach Tony White has wanted to continue teaching the nine students.

“It’s just to get them out and do something that I think they’re enjoying,” White said.

None of the students had ever played golf before. The first lesson was the first time most of them had even stepped foot onto a golf course.

“I love to see it,” White said. “Kids are just part of me. I just love them. Hopefully, these kids can learn something. I enjoy being around them. They keep me going.”

Point University was a major reason the school can go out to the course and teach the students the game.

“I appreciate Point University for opening their facilities up to us. [Point University men’s golf assistant coach] Shannon [Lipham] and the crew here are super nice and just outstanding,” White said. “They said whatever we need, it’s at our disposal.”

Alongside White, Springwood golfers Gracie Hanner, Hayden and Natalie Wolfe have helped teach their classmates the basics. A couple of the Point University golfers have also offered their services to help teach the Springwood students.

After the students are done with golf, they will try tennis.