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PGA Jr. League: Getting Young Golfers on the Course

Posted On: July 9, 2018 by ClubProcure in: Golf Pro Shop

PGA Jr. League - Getting Young Golfers on the Course

Across the golf world, club operators are finding ways to diversify their offerings. Junior golf programs must take the same approach. PGA Professionals are no different than any other person at the course. You are busy! Juniors take a much more hands on approach, and simply relying on the same junior golf program that has continued to reap similar rewards is enticing. Why change? Just like any other industry, it is imperative to evolve, and offering a diversified junior golf program is a step towards building filled tee-sheets in the future.

We were able to spend some time volunteering at the WJGA (Waterloo Junior Golf Association), our local competitive junior golf association in Iowa, and on the putting green we saw a junior wearing a polo with a number on the back. He was in the local PGA Jr. League.The PGA Jr. League is a unique opportunity for young golfers to learn and get on the course. Better yet, it offers phenomenal support to the “Captains” (PGA Professionals) by doing much of the heavy lifting.

What is the PGA Jr. League?

The PGA Jr. League is open to both boys and girls, under the age of 13. Also, many facilities offer 16 and under programs which are highlighted in the facility description during registration. The recommended minimum age is 9 years old, but many captains allow players younger than that to participate. The PGA Jr. League is played in scramble format which promotes teamwork, problem solving on the course, and pushes everyone to work together and contribute to winning their games, regardless of gender. Both boys and girls of similar abilities can compete together in pairs. This includes boy-and-girl, girl-and-girl, and boy-and-boy. No separate divisions or tee boxes and yardages are offered. Lastly, golfers of all abilities are encouraged to join. Golf is a game for everyone, and the PGA of America and its professionals are committed to offering an inclusive environment for anyone who is interested, especially beginners and any youth with disabilities.

We had the chance to talk to Nate Lubs, Head Golf Professional at Gates Park Golf Course in Waterloo Iowa, and get his take on the PGA Jr. League.

What makes this program a great fit within your different junior programs?

Nate: This program is an awesome way for kids to play as a team. It’s a relaxed environment and the scramble format offers kids a great opportunity to improve their game while making friends in the process. It is an excellent bridge for beginners leading up to true competitive golf. Often times, I feel that kids can get discouraged if they are shooting high numbers in competitive situations. Putting them with a friend to lean on helps them work on their skills in a way we haven’t explored in the past. Its been fun for me to watch our kids get better and make friends in the process.

How has the PGA Jr. League helped support your efforts?

Nate: They provide PGA Professionals with everything they need, including gear, marketing, backend help and support. We all are busy, but this has been well worth the time I need to help make this program get off the ground.

We were also able to chat and get some insights with Frank Chieppa, Regional League Manager – Midwest for the PGA Jr. League.

What are some of the main benefits you see with the PGA Jr. League? 

Frank: I think the best thing is that we get kids involved with the game, including those kids already playing. You know, it’s a little less of a competitive environment and more of a chance to have fun. Although, there are certainly competitive aspects with our postseason play that we do, but at the root level it is a less competitive way to play golf and do it with their friends. 

Additionally, we are seeing benefits for the facilities too. Our program is hosted at various courses, and hosting at these courses enhances the local youth programming they already have. Also, this helps push their instructional side of the game too. This gives members the opportunity to get golf instruction locally, and use those skills to compete in their local tournaments, as well as other competitions hosted by PGA Jr. League. Now that they have both of these offered, this gets kids on the golf course. No matter what anyone says, you can’t create a golfer if you don’t get them on a golf course. 

What are the steps you need to take to get something like this started?

Frank: If you are a PGA or LPGA professional or apprentice, it is as simple as going to www.pgajrleague.com. Next there’s a button that is for captains, and if you click on that it will go through the steps of what the program is all about, the format, the rules, and everything else you would need to know. Next, you would put in your information and PGA or LPGA number, then the regional manager for whatever part of the country you are in will get a notification that lets us know who you are and what facility you are part of. After, steps are taken to set clubs up in a league with specific grographic areas.

The PGA Jr. League is the perfect opportunity to introduce the game of golf to kids at a young age. For more information regarding registration, in-depth rules and more visit https://www.pgajrleague.com/.