Becoming a Captain: The Impact of PGA Jr. League

Q&A with Two PGA Professional #GameChangers

Lauren Court is the Regional League Manager for the North Florida and South Florida PGA Sections. She can be reached at (678) 602-2914 and lcourt@pgahq.com.

PGA Jr. League has concluded its 2018 season with record-breaking participa- tion – 50,000 players “joined the team” this year thanks to your efforts!

We caught up with PGA Jr. League Captains Doug Brody, PGA, atWarwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, Michigan; and Derrick Payne, PGA (pictured), at Palmetto Golf Course in Miami, Florida, to get some insight on their experiences from this season.

What kind of changes have you seen at your facility since offering PGA Jr. League?

Doug Brody: Over the last six years, we have cre- ated an environment where juniors of all ages encourage each other and play together often. The older kids have welcomed the younger ones to play and practice with them on the course and range. Our adult members have taken pride in seeing our juniors use the course and practice facility often, and they love to hear how our juniors are playing in area events.

Derrick Payne: There have been several changes here since our inaugural PGA Jr. League season. Most notably, the players have a greater sense of ownership. The course is where they meet lifelong friends, and where they continue to practice and play daily.

Before we offered PGA Jr. League, we had a bustling junior program, but very few juniors would play the golf course. They’d take lessons occasionally, but would play and practice on their own. We tried our best to match up kids that received instruction on different days, but they were virtually strangers to each other. Now, there isn’t a day that goes by without a PGA Jr. League participant playing or practicing with friends they met through the program.

How has PGA Jr. League changed your business?

Payne: We had 39 PGA Jr. League players at our facility. Every single player continued in either group, individual or camp programs, resulting in a 100-percent retention rate transitioning into summer, and a 42 percent increase in camp revenue from the previous year.

Moreover, 100 percent of our PGA Jr. League players are currently enrolled in school year fall programs, and the number of unique players in fall programs increased by 65 percent.

As far as parents taking lessons, that is some- thing we discuss immediately when anyone starts junior instruction. Watching their kids compete and have such a good time resulted in eight families deciding to start instruction – that’s 16 parents who started their own golf journeys with our help!

What would you say to a PGA Professional who is on the fence about having a team?

Brody: If you want to make a difference with junior golfers ages 13 and under, PGA Jr. League’s success rate for creating enthusiasm, activity, and skill is unmatched. It’s an investment in the future, for both your juniors and facility, which will pay dividends for many years to come.

Payne: Do it! Don’t hesitate and get started planning now! My 2019 planning committee has already met twice with a realistic goal of doubling participation. The financial implications could truly alter the outlook of your facility if you’re willing to put in the effort your families deserve. Get the word out and form a planning committee. Stop reading this interview and go sign up!

What has been your favorite thing about being a Captain?

Brody: It’s allowed me the opportunity to coach both my daughter and son. To have both kids on the same team and to share in the experience as Captain was a chance of a lifetime. As PGA Professionals, those opportunities are rare in our industry.

Payne: How much it reminds me of my youth. My father was always my coach, and I feel like this is my chance to facilitate some of those memories for my PGA Jr. League participants. Their families help me as volunteer assistants and planning committee contributors; grandparents are following the action in carts. In my mind, this is the PGA’s answer to organized team sports and the invaluable family experiences they provide. I loved being a Captain in 2018, and look forward to more successful years to come.

Ready to become a #GameChanger? Get started at PGAJrLeague.com.