It’s time to make youth development a business focus of your facility.

Youth Sports is one of the most lucrative industries in the Pacific Northwest. You don’t have to look far to see the explosion of gyms, cages and all-weather fields focused on developing young athletes.  Along with this, more and more kids are being pushed into a specific sport based on their talent, size and future potential at ever-decreasing ages.  For all kids, there seems to be lines of buses at the nearest elementary and middle schools waiting to pick up kids after school. Why?  SIMPLY – Youth development equals income.

With the success of the Drive, Chip & Putt (DC&P) and PGA Junior League Golf (JLG) in 2013 across our Section and our Country, both youth development “products” have quickly gained recognition in the general public, well beyond the avid golf community. Both of these products share several elements that separate them from traditional youth competitions including:

  • A welcoming, safe environment – At the DC&P events I worked last summer, I saw how this event attracted new kids and their families to try the game.  Though they may not have advanced, I know they had a great experience thanks to the pros hosting them.  I recently heard Steve Prugh, PGA Head Professional at Manito CC say (in his seminar at the Sweet 16 Conference,) “(Youth golf development) matters BECAUSE it’s a great place to start…at more than golf…that’s where the game truly grows…CHILDREN plus MOMS.”  I couldn’t agree more.
  • Unstructured/structured opportunities for socializing – i.e., HAVING FUN AND MAKING FRIENDS!  On a typical JLG team, there will be several kids who are relatively new to the game, and the development format of JLG helps create a safe place to land, to grow and contribute for them.  If coached correctly, this same format can help better, more experienced players learn how to lead their peers in a role similar to a “captain.”  (In my opinion, both of these are highly valuable to parents and the kids who benefit.)
  • Parents are encouraged to help – (but not be that wacko  “competitive parent”). Those who hosted teams in JLG, speak fondly of how the JLG’s scramble format encourages camaraderie, teamwork and authentic cheering from both teams’ players and parents.

For too long, PGA Professionals have worn the FREE (or CHEAP) badge too proudly when it comes to Junior Golf. Sports that can be almost free to play (basketball or soccer) charge hundreds of dollars for group training. Our sport is relatively expensive, and yet we provide instruction at a significant discount or even for free. Is it just me, or does that seem backwards?  (I am not suggesting it has to be expensive – I am stating my belief that you should charge the correct market value for your services. Those who can pay should be charged full price, and with that money you can create a fund of sorts for those families who cannot pay the full rate.) There is absolutely nothing wrong with providing free or inexpensive introductions to golf, BUT at some point we must work to create fairly priced revenue streams for our facility’s benefit (and our own.)  This is, for employers and facility owners, after all, a revenue conversation.

So, how does this tie in with DC&P and PGA JLG? Drive Chip and Putt is a free event, but kids will want to be prepared for the experience. Here are some possible revenue, excitement creating concepts I encourage you to try or adapt yourself  (see chart on following page).

Remember, the end goal is to provide products and experiences that create sustainable revenue streams for your facility (and yourself,) by creating fun, welcoming youth development opportunities for your existing junior golfers and to attract new kids, moms and families to your facility.

This activity, in concert with Steve Prugh’s statement of wisdom earlier this week, is the “HIGHEST AND BEST USE FOR A GOLF PROFESSIONAL,” and it’s why I chose to be a golf professional versus some other career.  Call me if you want to discuss these or any other ideas for growing your teaching, coaching and player development business plan, (along with rounds and revenue,) at your earliest convenience.