If you’ve read any of the materials in PGA Magazine regarding “Connecting With Her” (CWH) or better yet, gone through the recently released CWH Playbook, Connecting With Her you have learned about the true value, both financially and with loyalty, of attracting the women’s market. In this segment, let’s focus on the part of the women’s market with children and how the new PGA Junior League Golf Program (PGA JLG) just might be a great way for you to get moms, and all their influence, to your facility.

After a very successful pilot year, the PGA JLG is hoping to hit the ground here in the Pacific Northwest Section in a big way. If you want to grow your family business at a private club, a public course or even a range, I hope you’ll give this option a good look in 2013.

A good friend and fellow PGA Member, Andy Nisbet, PGA (NCPGA Section) was an early adopter of the PGA JLG in 2012. When I met with him earlier this month, he said (paraphrased), “I was pretty skeptical of the Junior League Golf idea at first. I thought it would cut into my already well-established golf academy and related junior golf business…on the contrary, it grew my business by leaps and bounds.”

Starting with only one team last year, Nisbet has targeted to have five teams in 2013. He continued, “It’s totally turn-key. The kid business is great and I used PGA JLG to grow my junior academy business by integrating it into the academy. For the kids under 13, who didn’t have a desire to play in competitive junior golf events or didn’t think they were ready, the Junior League program gave me a place to get them plugged in and excited—plus, the icing on the cake is that parents, especially the moms, are here at the club a lot and some of them have gotten into our adult golf learning programs.”

Can you really make revenue off of junior golf?

I would bet that you, your professional colleagues and Andy Nisbet, PGA, have all asked this question at one time or another. The answer is yes. Golf for juniors need not be a donation of your time or your skills to be worthwhile. Sure there are youngsters who are in need, but the vast majority kids in our markets have parents who can afford to have them there and they just might value them being at your facility if you gave them a good reason

For many years, we’ve all done week long junior camps to provide something for the families at our facility, but these were tiring and taxing for us, and not very profitable. Plus, they didn’t exactly get the kids engaged for the long haul. This is the biggest difference with the PGA Junior League Golf concept. The PGA JLG creates playing opportunities without the stress of individual competition. Instead, the focus is on the team and personal development is made within the team structure.

The PGA’s strategic partner in PGA JLG is League Golf, LLC. Their managing partner, Bob Longmire says, “Golf and tennis operate on a similar elite pipeline track. You play stroke play, you get ranked. It’s all solo.” This track satisfies some, but leaves the majority of youngsters, who may have enjoyed golf in our junior camps over the summer, in the cold and leads to an early – and usually permanent – exit from our great game.”

What makes PGA JLG different in format?

Aimed at ages from 7-13, Junior League Golf assembles teams of 12 players who compete against other squads from other facilities in a “game”, using a two-player scramble format. In the games, team members wear numbered jerseys with the team name on the shoulders. These jerseys have proven to be a huge hit with kids and parents.

  • A “game” features four matches, with interchangeable two-player teams playing nine holes in three separate “segments”.
  • When a team wins two of three holes in any segment, its players “capture a flag” and actually receive a flag sticker to be placed on a bag tag, akin to the way football players earn helmet stickers for making exceptional plays. These flag stickers have also proven to be a big deal, if not a badge of honor for kids.
  • Capturing a flag earns a point; holes that are halved yield no flag, but win a half-point. The squad with the most cumulative points wins the game.
  • After any three holes, a team captain – usually a PGA Pro Coach or Parent/Volunteer Coach – may substitute a player, giving everyone a chance to participate.

By playing a scramble format, Longmire says, pressure is virtually eliminated and opportunities for success multiply. “The player who never dreamed of making birdies now can, and he’s usually the one putting first,” he says. “He or she may not have hit the shot to get there, but all he or she remembers is sinking the putt.”

To learn more about the possible revenue from PGAJLG and the overall commitment required, visit: http://www.pgajrleaguegolf.com/pgapro/

In the Pacific Northwest, I believe there are some key leaders who are looking to help develop PGAJLG markets in various areas of our Section. To learn more from them and how to get involved with their development efforts based on your facility type and location, please check out the section at the end of this article labeled: “PGA JLG for PNW Section” or connect with Andrew Sirk, Nat’l PGA JLG coordinator anytime at a.sirk@leaguegolfinc.com or 770-558-8443.

In closing, I hope you’ll put aside the skepticism that comes so easily to us as PGA professionals these days and give strong consideration to the PGA JLG like Andy Nisbet, PGA and many other PGA Members have. It could be so much more than just another long-term investment in the game with an uncertain return…it could be a viable business to create untapped facility revenues, or to re-brand your facility as “family friendly” and start to “Connect With Her” in earnest.

Monte Koch

“PGA JLG for PNW Section” Leaders

  • Dan Harrington, PGA – Meadow Park GC, Tacoma, WA
  • Greg Manley, PGA – Meridian Valley CC, Kent, WA
  • Tim Fraley, PGA – Awbrey Glen CC, Bend, OR
  • John Lumpkin, PGA – Sunriver Resort, Sunriver, OR
  • Sean Fredrickson, PGA – Tualatin CC, Tualatin, OR
  • John Grothe, PGA – OGA Members GC, Tukwila, OR