As the PGA of America enters our centennial year of 2016, I hope that you join me as a PGA Professional to celebrate our history. That is just the beginning, as our story is now. You and I are the PGA Professionals carrying the badge, the letters and the brand behind our names. Besides the anniversary, I am celebrating because we finally have a concept that is workable, doable and deliverable at any golf facility in our Section. This concept is called PGA Junior League Golf (PGA JLG).

It’s true and I am writing this first as a PGA Professional, secondly as a PGA staffer. Don’t believe me? Then read the stories of some of our peers. To tell these success stories, I’ll lay them out by 1) facility type and 2) number of teams.

Public Facilities

One Team: Polson Bay GC (1st  Year) – Cameron Milton, PGA

Milton decided JLG would “definitely happen” at Polson Bay and in the WMC, even if it meant commuting for 90 minutes to Missoula. In the first year, JLG had 14 kids and solid revenues. It has created a positive vibe in town with civic leaders, business leaders and parents. Milton was able to land a major grant for his entire junior program from his JLG success story.

Two Teams: Foster Links GC (2nd  Year) – Warren Orr, PGA

Orr has no range or practice facility, yet he has started fulfilling his vision for bringing golf to kids in one of the “most diverse high school in the country.” JLG is a key part of his plan, and it’s already helped his vision for a competitive, inclusive “junior pathway” at Foster GL start moving. It’s also given him valuable “cred” amongst senior municipal parks leadership.

Two Teams: Lake Oswego GC (3rd Year) – Tom Mueller, PGA

Mueller sees JLG as a way to bring kids, families together at the public golf course – as a revenue generating amenity within the town’s resources.  Lake Oswego GC had 26 participants between the regular season and fall season and generated $5,165 in directly related revenue. JLG is the centerpiece of a full menu of kids programming at the course and is intertwined in a Youth on Course program, Junior Golf Nights (glow balls, movie and more), tournaments and a Kid’s Day Open House.

Private Facilities – Metropolitan

One Team: Seattle GC (1st Year) – Kristen Allard, PGA

Allard, with full support from head professional Doug Doxsie, PGA, brought JLG to a metropolitan club that many thought would not have enough interest in the program. In the first year, JLG had a team of 12 kids, with several more showing interest as the program developed. Not only was JLG a success, but it helped  grow private lesson income and increase junior rounds on slow afternoons. Doxsie said of Allard, “she created a buzz our club needs, a reason for families to join and participate.”

Two Teams: Riverside CC (1st Year) – Nicole Ward, PGA & Chris Gonzales, PGA

Ward and Gonzales launched JLG  at Riverside CC with two teams. Previously, Gonzales had been part of launching JLG at Tualatin CC with Sean Fredrickson. Together, Ward and Gonzales proved JLG is a concept that works when you work with parents to bring what they want to their kids. “Parents are talking about it with other members…and they’re talking about what we’re doing for the good of the club,” said Gonzales.

Four Teams: Tacoma C&GC  (3rd Year) – Sara Griffin, PGA & Chris Griffin, PGA

Sara started with 1 team, then 2 teams. In year 3, she and Chris decided to go for 4 so they could have their own league. Even though they missed out on  visits to other facilities, having their own league with 4 teams was easier for the Griffins.

Along with other family-centric concepts she delivers, Sara can take credit for five new family memberships at TCGC sold in 2015 and a minimum of $7k in food and beverage from JLG and PGA Sports Academy alone. Over the next 10 years, those new memberships could be worth $450k in dues alone. Wow!

Daily Fee

One Team: Coeur D’Alene GC (1st Year) – Jim Colliflower, PGA

Colliflower told me, quite enthusiastically, that captaining JLG in 2015 at the public golf club was a true highlight of his career. “…so much fun…so much support from families…looking forward to 2016,” were some of the feelings he shared with me. Love it, Jim! The positive revenue for Coeur D’Alene GC and for Colliflower was certainly a plus.  The board of directors also loved the positive story for JLG and the facility for 2015 and the future.

Two Teams: RiverRidge GC (2nd Year) – Ric Jeffries, PGA; Aaron Oakley, PGA & Dennis Nakata

As a PGA Professional and course owner, Ric Jeffries and his wife Debbie see a close correlation in the goodwill and bottom line value for The First Tee (TFT) and PGA JLG. Partnering with Dennis Nakata, who leads in the programming for TFT at RiverRidge, Jeffries and Oakley have a vision of JLG as the “bridge to golf” for TFT kids to become lifetime golfers. Don’t be surprised if RRGC has 4+ teams and their own league in 2016.

Three Teams: Harbour Pointe GC (2nd Year) – Caleb Kraus, PGA & Drew Shaub, PGA

Going into the second year of JLG, Kraus wanted to see the value generated from one team grow. His goal was to grow to 4 teams. They almost made it; their success helped JLG grow beyond Harbor Pointe GC to other courses in the Oki Golf family. “JLG is one of the few concepts that I can support and love as a GM,” said Kraus, adding that it generated “goodwill for the club, good revenue for the facility and the golf professionals. It’s fun, too.”

Shaub is now at The Plateau with big plans for JLG in 2016.

Resort/Semi-Private

Two Teams: Eagle Crest GC (2nd Year) – Kevin Story, PGA Apprentice

Story saw the value of JLG and asked, “Why can’t that work here?” – then acted on it.  In the first year, Story was able to get a JLG team together in only 10 days, once he got a few key parents behind it. It made decent money, but “most of all, it was a lot of fun,” said Story, who is looking forward to getting two teams together in 2016.

Private Facilities – Non-Metropolitan

Two Teams: Green Meadow CC (1st Year) – Kellen Sasken, PGA

Helena, MT is 9.5 hours from the Section office (with no stops) but Sasken managed to launch JLG  at Green Meadow CC with two teams . Like others have done, Sasken’s teams paired up with the team from the local municipal golf course. In year 1, their league had just 3 teams, but they forged ahead. Sasken believes that, “making JLG work in year 1 mattered the most…we’ll have more teams and get to the playoffs next year.”

Two Teams: The Dalles CC (2nd Year) – Amy Wilson, PGA

If you know Wilson, you know she’s the best kind of renegade. In Year 2, she proved you can win with JLG in a “not so central” place like The Dalles. In the process, she has brought a buzz to a club that needed it. In a league with Mark Gradin’s teams from Indian Creek, Wilson has also made a true “family-centric brand” for herself, with her club being the place it all happens.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Chapter leaders who have lead the charge in growing PGA JLG in our Section since 2013. Names like Sean Fredrickson, Mark Keating, Caleb Kraus, Dan Harrington, Sara Griffin and Tim Fraley have been mentioned before, but their contribution should not be forgotten.

The best part is they have not stopped “making JLG work” and now others are following. Names like Cameron Milton, Kellen Sasken, Jess Roper, Derek Siesser, Gordon Korder and Michelle Grafos “made it work” in the Inland Empire and Western Montana Chapters. It is these professionals above, and nearly all members of the Section Board who “made it work.” Our collective efforts led to 45% growth in teams for 2015 – but there’s much more room to grow…big places like Bellingham, the Tri-Cities and Medford have kids, families and facilities looking for JLG, but so are smaller places like Longview, Astoria, Centralia and Lewiston/Clarkston. (I could go on). If you don’t think going to the playoffs is a big deal, ask Derek Siesser about his “rookie” class of All-Stars that made it all the way to the Western Regional Finals at Chehalem Glenn.

In review of the success stories above, I hope you see there is one significant connection amongst them all. It’s not the facility type, not the number of golfers, members, customers or potential customers around them. Clearly, each of them has a PGA professional who saw a concept that just might work for them, for their facility and then THEY MADE IT WORK. Bravo to them all and to every one of our PGA peers who captained and supported one of our 117 PGA JLG teams in 2015.

If you are considering joining the ranks of JLG “producers/winners” in 2016, I am here to help you make it work too. In year four, my task is to help every current PGA team captain continue to utilize and grow their JLG concept, and to help develop more leagues, more teams and more value and proof for employing PGA professionals. If you are ready to get rolling with PGA JLG, let’s get started now so we can help you get into the right local league and start promoting your success so you can get the maximum value, income and credit for a “win-win” situation in 2016.

 

Monte Koch, Certified PGA Professional/Player Development
Player Development Regional Mgr/Mentor**
PGA of America (Greater Seattle/PacNW PGA Section)
Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com Cell: 206/335-5260