Tiger Woods Junior? US Golf Programs for Kids
Little League World Series. Youth Soccer. Junior Championships. Kids playing and competing in sports is nothing new. Something that was new to me, however, was golf tournaments for kids. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised; parents sign their kids up for every activity imaginable, and golf is just another option.
Just like so many other youth sports, there are many ways to get involved:
- One way is to join an established organization. The First Tee and American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) offer membership. First Tee has local chapters, for example, while AJGA is a national organization only.
- Training programs. First Tee offers training programs that are based partly on golf skills and partly on leadership and life skills.
- Golf camps. U.S. Kids Golf offers summer camp programs to teach kids to play the game.
- Tournaments. See below for more in-depth info on tournaments.
There are many other junior golf associations and websites than are listed in this article. I have chosen a few that are the most well-known and the easiest to find information on. If you are interested in having your child play golf, do some more research on your own to find out what would be best for your child.
Additional Information on Junior Golfing
- The PGA Junior Series
The mission of the Callaway Golf PGA Junior Series is to provide affordable and competitive playing opportunities for boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 18 throughout the country.
The official Junior Golf web site of the USGA, PGA Tour, PGA of America, LPGA, NGCOA, GCSAA, and the World Golf Foundation. Use this site to find junior golf programs across the country. Resource for Golfers, Parents, Programs and the industry
- American Junior Golf Association
An organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.
- The First Tee Home Page
A youth development program dedicated to providing young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop, through golf and character education, life-enhancing values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship.
Kids Golf Accessories and Equipment
Why Should a Child Play Golf?
The website description of The First Tee organization gives persuasive and succinct reasons for children to choose the game of golf over other sports.
First, golf is a game with no officials to yell foul or call a breach of the rules. Some children enjoy the game play in sports but not the restrictiveness of the rules.
In golf, only the individual participants know if the score that was written down is the score that was actually earned. (Admittedly, this could work as an advantage or as a disadvantage.)
Golf, as described by First Tee, is a game "with a rich history and timeless traditions that invites respect for the old and wonderment of the new." But more importantly for the kids, golf is fun to play. Perfection is never achieved but nor is it expected; the opportunities for improvement and success are endless.
Golf is a game where the amateur, the beginner, can play a competitive match, as can the seasoned expert. Young children can play with each other, or they can play with older players. The game can appropriately be played by the young and old together, but only, as the website suggests, "if they have a place to learn and play the game at all."
Most importantly, in my opinion, is that golf can be played non-competitively as well as competitively. Some sports, such as football, simply cannot be played without the element of competition. If a child just wants to play a sport without having to defeat someone to succeed, golf provides that experience.
What Kinds of Competitions and Tournaments Are There?
If a child golfer is more of the competitive type, there are numerous options to compete against fellow child golfers. U.S. Kids Golf offers tournaments at many levels. U.S. Kids Golf offers local tours, regional championships, a European championship, a world championship, and a teen world championship. To be eligible for the championships, U.S. Kids Golf requires kids to participate in World Championship Qualifiers, one-day events that they must attend and prove themselves worthy of the tournaments. The local tours are in the following locations:
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Auburn, Alabama
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Boca Raton, Florida
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Dallas, Texas
- Houston, Texas
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Phoenix, Arizona
- San Antonio, Texas
- Tallahassee, Florida
- Western North Carolina
The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) is geared toward helping students earn golf scholarships for college, so naturally they also hold tournaments, many of them. AJGA uses "performance-based entry" rather than applications and resumés. The age group for these tournaments is 12-18 years, and members can gain entry into AJGA Open tournaments based on performances at the national, regional and state levels.
There is a PGA Junior Championship, as well, in which children and teens under age 19 and not in college can qualify through their local PGA sections, the PGA Junior Series, selected national junior golf events, Junior Golf Scoreboard, national rankings, and past PGA Championship winners.
Junior Golf Sets
And, Of Course, the Products...
Where would a sports industry be without money to spend and products to market? Of course there are golf products specifically for kids. Just a smattering includes:
- Golf clubs for kids (various sizes and weights)
- Golf bags (all kinds of colors and decorations)
- Golf toys
- Golf clothes (sized for children)
- Golf hats
- Golf balls (both practice and real)
- Golf books (instructional and fictional)