If you’re a parent who would like your child to be exposed to golf, but can’t seem to win his or her attention away from such team sports as soccer, baseball or basketball, then PGA Junior League Golf (PGA JLG) may be just what you’ve been looking for.
A national initiative of the PGA of America, JLG is for boys and girls, ages 13 and under, and offers team vs. team competitions that use a less-stressful-for-beginners scramble format. “This is a great way to get kids involved in the game,” fliers for the leagues state.
In South Carolina, a number of Midlands clubs – among them Columbia’s Forest Lake Club, Country Club of Lexington and Fort Jackson Golf Club – are already on board to sponsor teams, with more expected when instate leagues begin this spring. Just because those clubs are private, however, doesn’t prevent non-member youngsters from taking part, depending on availability of spots on teams.
“The Midlands have embraced it right off the bat,” says Chris Miller, managing director of the S.C. Junior Golf Association. “It’s a way for teams to come together, have competitions and even go on to a national level. It’s organized at the club level but it’s not a private entity.” Miller says that S.C.’s two state park golf courses, Hickory Knob (McCormick) and Cheraw, also are considering sponsoring one or more teams.
How does it work? Once clubs have signed up, players will receive PGA JLG team golf jerseys, golf balls and PGA JLG bag tags. Teams will participate in five or six regular-season competitions, with two-three away matches at other clubs in an area.
The format for team-vs.-team competition is four 9-hole matches, each match involving a two-player “scramble” (each player hits a shot, then both play the team’s next shot from the best first shot, and so on into the cup). The matches consist of three-hole segments called “flags,” with each flag worth a point for a total of 12 points. Substitution of players is allowed at the beginning of each flag segment, with players assigned to a specific match at the start of the competition.
(For more complete explanation of rules, click here
The competitions take about 2 hours, 15 minutes each, assuring players don’t become overworked or bored. Parents are encouraged to be involved both as spectators and volunteer team monitors and coaches.
“The idea is a way of bolstering kids, getting them to play golf together,” Miller says. “Younger kids who aren’t ready for a high school team can be a part of this.”
While PGA-JLG is designed to be more recreational than competitive, PGA of America literature points out that “role model” players involved in the program can serve as peer mentors for younger, less accomplished players. To get those role model players involved, a national competition involving all-star teams from each local league will take place in September, with six teams advancing to a PGA-JLG National Championship at Atlanta’s Sugarloaf TPC.
For more information on competition and to find a local team, click here