|The PGA of America and LEJ Sports Partner to Connect Little League to Golf|
|Golf is joining the ranks of baseball, soccer, basketball and other mainstream sports as a team sport for kids by providing the opportunity for young golfers to enjoy the bonding associated with team sports without losing the competitiveness of a structured league environment.|
PGA Junior League Golf Heads to First Playoffs
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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Golf has joined the ranks of baseball, soccer, basketball and other mainstream sports as a team sport for kids. The PGA Junior League Golf program is completing a successful first year with teams from 22 regions across the country heading to Regional Championships with winners advancing to the national championship at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club outside of Chicago, Sept. 14-16.
The PGA of America and LEJ Sports of Norcross, Ga., partnered to create PGA Junior League Golf, an exciting new team concept for aspiring young golfers. More than 120 teams from 22 markets participated in league play throughout June and early July. No previous playing experience was required and players of varied skill levels filled out the teams.
"The first year of PGA Junior League Golf far exceeded our expectations," said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. "PGA Junior League Golf is modeled after Little League Baseball, in that it gives young boys and girls the chance to learn the game in a fun, team-oriented setting without sacrificing the competitive element. This has been a great opportunity for parents and young golfers alike to take a look at a new way to play the game, one with all of the same benefits as a baseball, basketball, or soccer league."
The program is designed to bring young players together to learn the game among their peers and under the direction of PGA/LPGA Professionals serving as team captains. Parents are also encouraged to play an active role in the administration of matches and leagues, making the Junior League program a family activity with the capability to create another generation of players to enjoy the game.
PGA Junior League Golf allows young golfers to enjoy the bonding associated with team sports without losing the competitiveness of a structured league environment. Much like other league sports, PGA Junior League Golf participants receive team uniforms with jersey numbers. Matches are coed, two-person scrambles, which reinforces the team concept and limits the pressure on any one player. Coaches can substitute players every three holes so all of the 12 to 14 golfers on each team can participate.
"Golf has never presented the team concept for kids in a fun and competitive manner like this," said LEJ Managing Partner Bob Longmire. "Junior golf is usually geared toward the development of fine young players, leaving out the kid who's not a great player but still enjoys the game. This is finally their opportunity to play with their peers and friends, even though they might not be an elite player. They're playing golf and falling in love with the game, which is the ultimate goal.
LEJ has a history of creating, implementing national grassroots initiatives that drive youth and family engagement with major sports organizations such as The PGA of America. Some of these include Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run, Junior NBA/Junior WNBA Skills Challenge, iHoops Skills Challenge, Junior Olympic Skills Competition, and NBA All-Star Gatorade Jam Session Invitations.
In 2011, LEJ successfully piloted the Junior League concept with teams in Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego and Tampa. Four teams played in the national championship held last fall at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga. In Atlanta, the program continues to thrive, growing from one league and eight teams in its initial year to six leagues and 30 teams in 2012.
Nationally, more than 1,800 children ages seven-to-13 are competed on 123 teams in 22 cities. Teams played regular season matches throughout the first part of the summer before convening for city championships. The winning team from each city will join all-star players from their league at one of five regional championships held Aug. 4-5/Aug. 11-12. The five regional champions, along with the host region team (Chicago) will advance to the national championship, held Sept. 14-16 at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club outside Chicago, Ill., less than two weeks before the start of the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.
The 2012 PGA Junior League regions and 22 markets include:
The program will be available nationally in 2013, giving facilities across the country the chance to host a PGA Junior League team. For more information on PGA Junior League Golf, visit pgajrleaguegolf.com.