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Growing the game from the ground up with PGA Junior League

Jul 31, 2017   //   by Mathilda   //   golf industry, Latest News  //  No Comments

Golf is a hard sell.

And with so much competition for the shortest of attention spans, the idea of a grow-the-game initiative that targets the next generation was initially met with a fair amount of apprehension.

The skeptics were outnumbered before the PGA Junior League began a second season in the Met section.

“All of the sudden, kids started to wear the jerseys around the club,” said Ben Hoffhine, who introduced a team at Wykagyl Country Club four years ago. “Then some of the kids on that team began playing together a lot and began hitting balls on the range together a lot.”

The program grew organically and exponentially.

“By the second year, it had just exploded,” added Hoffhine, who is now the director of golf at Westchester Country Club.

After the PGA of America saw potential in a 2011 pilot program that ran in four cities, a strategic partnership resulted in PGA Junior League.

The national initiative makes a complicated game user friendly.

Only the most fundamental rules are in play. It’s real golf tee to green, but teamwork and socialization are the major points of emphasis. The program is open to boys and girls 13 and under.

Ability is not a prerequisite.

“My son plays baseball and ice hockey, too, and this is a little more laid back,” said Richard Dima, a Stormville resident whose 11-year-old son Liam plays with the Centennial team in Carmel. “It’s tough to teach golf, just even the etiquette, but the kids have really learned a lot here. It’s fun watching them help each other read putts and check in with each other before each shot. There is that whole aspect of eye contact and shaking hands that can be very difficult for these guys at this age, so for them to learn that early on is a nice concept.”

There is no shortage of youthful enthusiasm on display.

“Golf is fun,” said 10-year-old Isabella Del Bosco, a Stony Point resident who plays on the Rotella team. “The more I learn the better I get, and the matches are really exciting.”

Something is obviously working.

Source: lohud

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