Right now the game of golf is at a critical time. All the research demonstrates that the growth of the game in the U.S. is non-existent. In fact, we are losing more golfers each year than we are gaining. This is very alarming to me. We can bat around all the reasons why but the reality remains that it is incumbent upon PGA Professionals such as myself to do what is needed to grow the game. Enter junior golf development.
At the TOURAcademy, we offer junior development programs not only domestically but also internationally. These programs offer traditional skill based instruction, as well as incorporates training junior golfers to become athletes through a variety of exercises that will assist in developing their fundamental movement skills. In addition to instruction and fitness, it is important that your junior golfer is playing clubs that are the correct length and weight. Oftentimes, I see juniors with clubs that are much too heavy. This will make it impossible to develop speed at an early age. If the skill of swing speed isn’t developed early in life, it is very difficult to learn later.
So what does a typical summer or holiday junior camp look like at one of our TOURAcademy locations? We offer 3 formats—half day camps designed for the younger golfer (ages 7-11), full day camps (12-17) and Elite camps for more advanced golfers. All these programs incorporate instruction, fitness and club fitting. The fitness sessions are led by our TPI Certified golf trainers who are experts in the field of junior golf development.
The Cyclone – The cyclone is a series of stations which helps develop the fundamental movement skills necessary to swing the golf club efficiently and with speed. See the photos from a recent full day camp at TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass. These skills develop agility, flexibility, hand eye coordination and other important skills. The cyclone is an integral part of our junior development programs.
At times, I am asked by the parents about the fitness component we incorporate within our junior programs. After I explain the importance in developing these motion skills, coupled with better technique, it becomes clear to them why we do it.
There is no doubt that developing the junior golfer segment is important in order to grow the game of golf. At the TOURAcademy, we graduate roughly 1000 kids every year from one of our programs. These juniors learn everything needed to play golf at a high level and have fun doing it. I am confident that these golfers will stay involved in the game of golf for years to come.
John Stahlschmidt, PGA is a Master Instructor for the TOURAcademy at TPC Sawgrass. To comment, email John at firstname.lastname@example.org.