As PGA Professionals descend upon the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show this week, many are gearing up to coach PGA Jr. League teams and welcome families to their facilities as player registration opens in early February.
Last year, over 2,800 PGA and LPGA Professionals coached more than 60,000 boys and girls of all skill levels through fun and exciting team golf experiences. Their efforts helped boost participation by 20%, up from 50,000 players in 2018.
“It’s exciting to see families, particularly those new to the game, continue to embrace our concept of team-based golf,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley, PGA. “Through PGA Jr. League, PGA Professionals are providing a fun and inclusive environment for kids to learn the game for a lifetime.”
The year of growth for the program was highlighted with the addition of an expanded 17u age division (ages 14-17) to accommodate the growing number of players aging out of the 13u age division, as well as the launch of an official Fall Season (August–December). As a result, more than 6,100 players ages 14-17 stayed in the program and played on 17u teams, while more than 5,300 players enjoyed team golf with friends through the fall.
Additionally, PGA Jr. League Captains are creating tight-knit communities and making the experience more convenient for families by hosting leagues internally at their facility. By hosting all practices and games in one place, it eliminates travel time and the facility becomes a true “third place” (after home and work) for families.
Overall, families were provided with more learning and playing experiences for their kids, and their year-end feedback resulted in a 73 percent Net Promoter Score (NPS) for PGA Jr. League, which is industry-leading among youth sports programs. NPS is a standard consumer satisfaction metric that measures the degree to which people would recommend a company to others. Scores range from -100 to +100, with those above zero considered “good;” above 50 considered “excellent;” and above 70 considered “world class.”
PGA Jr. League is the flagship youth pillar program of the PGA of America’s 501 (c)(3) foundation, PGA REACH. The aim is to make PGA Jr. League accessible to all children, regardless of circumstance. Through PGA REACH’s partnership with DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation and its Sports Matter grant, more than 5,500 scholarships have been awarded since 2017, to players who otherwise wouldn’t have access to PGA Jr. League.
“The scholarship program has been instrumental in creating greater accessibility to PGA Jr. League,” said PGA REACH Senior Director Ryan Cannon. “It’s crucial for ensuring that all kids everywhere have the opportunity to learn, play and experience golf.”
Six world-renowned athletes also lend their support to the program in roles as Ambassadors, including PGA and LPGA Tour superstars Rory McIlroy, Lexi Thompson, Rickie Fowler and Michelle Wie. Three-time NBA Champion Stephen Curry and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Alex Morgan are the newest PGA Jr. League Ambassadors, using their ability to reach kids who may not yet be familiar with golf. In addition, PGA REACH has partnered with Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation with the goal of helping children in the Bay Area and beyond with the support and opportunities needed to play the game of golf and lead healthy, active lives.
Amplifying the exposure from Ambassadors to new audiences, PGA REACH, Grayhawk Golf Club and National Car Rental teamed with ESPN to air a two-hour highlight show of the 2019 PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental on ESPN2 in November. In 2020, ESPN will broadcast the Championship live for the first time from Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, Oct. 8-11.
For more information about PGA Jr. League, visit PGAJrLeague.com.