Mar 122013

 VanDyke_Roger_Large Saturday, February 23, 2013

Roger Van Dyke, a PGA Master Professional and winner of the 1985 Bill Strausbaugh Award, is the president of Indian River Golf Foundation in Vero Beach, Fla.

Make Competition Fun With PGA Junior League Golf

Roger Van Dyke on the importance of making competition fun with PGA Junior League Golf:

The Indian River Golf Foundation (IRGF) is a 501(c)(3) entity that exists to offer golf experiences to children of different age groups and skill levels, regardless of socioeconomic status. The IRGF focuses on player development starting in kindergarten and running all the way through high school, with a combination of in-school programs and on-course instruction and playing – from private and small group instruction to travel golf teams for older juniors. In just more than four years, the IRGF has helped more than 500 juniors become golfers. Our strategy is based on three areas: training, practices and competitions. That last one is especially important. I think it’s vitally important that if you’re going to capture the hearts of these young players, you need to have competition. Just hitting balls and working on their swings isn’t going to hook them on the game. They need that competitive spirit. That’s why we got involved with PGA Junior League Golf last year, and are excited to continue the program this year. Last year we had three players on the all-star team that represented Florida at the PGA Junior League Golf national championship at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill., prior to the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Roger Van Dyke on the business impact of making competition fun with PGA Junior League Golf:

The kids that went to Medinah talk about it all the time, and they tell the other juniors about how cool it was to stand on the first tee and represent your state at the course where they’re playing the Ryder Cup. These kids wear their golf shirts with their numbers on the back all the time, and we have a lot of kids and their parents asking us when this season starts, and how they can sign up. Our area will have four PGA Junior League Golf teams this year, and I encourage other PGA Professionals to offer it as an option for their junior golfers. I know a lot of people already offer competitive opportunities, but it is great when a national program comes along that is in line with what you’re doing locally so you can add those three huge letters to your program: PGA. The scramble format is great because kids can compete without feeling all the pressure on their shoulders, and at that age they love to compete on a team. And now our grade school kids see the PGA Junior League Golf players and see that there’s a place for them to play when they get older. These fun competitions have certainly increased interest and participation in the IRGF.