Impressed by the rapid growth of PGA Junior League Golf in its first three years, TaylorMade-adidas Golf has committed $100,000 per year for each of the next five years to the innovative, fun program that introduces youth to the game in a team setting. The goal of the company’s commitment is to help increase the number of PGA Junior League Golf participants, teams and leagues, all under the guidance of PGA and LPGA Professionals.
Launched in 2011 as a partnership between the PGA of America and League Golf, LLC, PGA Junior League Golf’s numbers soared last year to record figures – nearly 9,000 boys and girls competing on more than 700 teams across 33 states. That represented a 345-percent increase in registration from the 2012 season. For 2014, the projected growth is to reach 1,200 teams with 250 leagues and 15,000 players.
“We’re thrilled with the enormous success that PGA Junior League Golf has achieved in such a short time,” said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “The contribution from TaylorMade-adidas Golf reinforces the importance of team golf and the opportunity to grow the game among large numbers of youth is a fun and unique opportunity to introduce the future generation of golfers to a game that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.”
PGA Junior League Golf is similar in structure to Little League Baseball and youth soccer programs, with participants receiving team uniforms with jersey numbers.
“The whole concept is fantastic,” said TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Mark King. “From getting kids who ordinarily wouldn’t play the game or be attracted to it or have a chance to be on a team, to getting parents involved—you know the parents are going to play more golf if their kids are playing more golf.”
Teams are comprised of young golfers (boys and girls) ages 13 and under, with no prior playing experience required. They play 9-hole matches in a two-person scramble format, reinforcing the team concept and limiting the pressure on any one player; coaches can substitute players every three holes, so that all of the golfers on each team can participate.
“Over the past year, everything that I heard from PGA Professionals about PGA Junior League Golf was really, really positive,” King added. “There’s a need to get kids into the game. PGA Junior League Golf seems like the perfect way to get kids on a team, competing, having fun, in uniforms, all the things that the program offers—I think it’s the best program I’ve ever heard about at the junior level to get kids interested in the game.”
Teams play regular-season matches before entering city and regional championships. Each regional champion advances to the PGA Junior League Golf Championship, held last year at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga., Sept. 6-8. Team Georgia captured the Championship in 2013. The 2014 PGA Junior League Golf Championship will also be held at TPC Sugarloaf, Oct. 24-26.