PGA, Tesori Family Foundation host golf clinic for children with special needs

Written by Meghan Moriarty for Action News Jax

Penelope Magnusson just celebrated a big birthday.

The sassy, sporty teenager is an avid golf player, and looks forward to the PLAYERS every year.

“Why do you like golf?” Joni, Penelope’s mother, asked her.

In a shy, soft tone, Penelope said she watches it all the time on television.

Penelope has down syndrome, but her social skills are flourishing thanks to a local golf clinic.

On Wednesday, the Tesori Family Foundation, in partnership with the PGA Tour, will host its 5th annual All-Star Kids Golf Clinic for 25 children, ages 8 through 18, with special needs.

The foundation is founded by former PGA player and current PGA tour caddy, Paul Tesori and his wife Michelle.

After the Tesori’s son, Isaiah, was born with one extra chromosome in 2004, the foundation expanded throughout the United States, adding specific programming for children with special needs including but not limited to children with the same diagnosis as Isaiah, Down syndrome.

“Being able to provide these children with golf skills and skills just to be around people so that they can bring that on to the other areas of their life,” Genna Lancaster said.

She’s the Executive Director of the foundation.

“Children with down syndrome have a tendency to have low muscle tone, and so to get out and be active is important,” Joni Magnusson said.

“She’s [Penelope] got her favorite caddy and she follows him on the tour now.”

Penelope’s PGA favorite is Michael Greller, the caddy for Jordan Speith.

Due to COVID-19, Greller can’t play in the clinic with Penelope but is still looking forward to another year of making memories, and of course playing golf!

“It gives our kids the chance to be the start. They’re not always the start everywhere they go,” Joni Magnusson said.