How to make your junior program a success

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Are the numerous grow-the-game efforts out there right now really working? The answer depends on who you ask.
One of the hottest topics of discussion at the recent Golf Inc. Conference in La Quinta, Calif., was whether the golf industry’s efforts at bringing new players into the game has been effective. Some voiced concerns that the tens of millions invested in helping juniors over the past decade has not produced the returns anticipated, as evidenced by the low participation rates of 20- and 30-something-year-olds. 
Even groups like The First Tee have come under increasing criticism from those who say that while the organization does laudable work teaching kids the basics in both golf and good citizenship, it has fallen short of the long-term goal of producing more paying golfers.
Some industry professionals point to the demise of the caddie system as one of the primary culprits for the lack of interest by young people in the game today. Others blame  the availability of so many other forms of sports and entertainment – activities that are easier to play and don’t require the same time and financial commitment. 
In our view, the key factor in making a junior program work for golf courses isn’t getting the kid involved – it’s making sure their parents are part of the activity. Provide instruction for the kids, then hold father-son or mother-daughter events. Get the whole family to turn out and you stand a better chance of hooking a kid on golf for life.
What do you think golf operators can do to bring families out to their courses? We’d like to hear your views.  


There is no question the pathetic indifference, to sustaining caddie golf, by those that administer the game, has had huge ramifications for youth participation. Every kid needs a JOB at some point to pay for anything! Caddie golf allowed the youngster(and other that do the job) to earn AND learn the game...staying in it long enough to fall in love with it in many cases. This idea that the sacred "cart revenue" must be maintained for the game's survival is nonsense. Carts have their place and certainly help folks who otherwise might have difficulty playing, but to not better support caddie opportunities wherever financially possible costs the many ways...and those that should know better have not stepped up and done the right thing as of yet!

Ask Mr. Lewis the CEO of the First Tee why they are not producing new golfers. He is the one being paid something like 650,000 a year. Ridiculous! Oh Yes, and there is reverse discrimination in hiring practices in my opinion.

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