Phil Truono: Diversify Your Youth Golf Program with an Ultimate Putting Contest

Phil Truono, the 2016 PGA New England Section Teacher of the Year, is the PGA Director of Golf at the Miacomet Golf Club in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

While we do offer traditional youth clinics on the range, our most popular program is our Tuesday Play Day. Every Tuesday for four consecutive weeks, 60 young golfers take to our course. We divide them into three age groups and with the assistance of a coach — either a PGA Assistant Professional or a caddie from a neighboring course — and they play three holes (six- to eight- year-olds); five holes (nine- to 11-year-olds); or nine holes (12 years and up). The starting times for the rounds, played in a scramble format, are scattered 30-minutes apart. Prior to the rounds, we host a brief 15-minute clinic on topics such as etiquette, sportsmanship and being a good playing partner. These weekly rounds are scheduled so all participants finish around the same time. Afterwards, we gather every player on our putting green with their putters and one golf ball for the ultimate putting contest. On the count of three, they simultaneously putt from the fringe with their parents watching and cheering. Anyone who makes that putt gets a Miacomet hat that is displayed on the flagsticks of the practice holes. The kids who sank the putt get a shot at another prize — $100 in cash — if they sink a more difficult putt. With incentives on the line, as well as their desire to improve, the kids are motivated by this exciting end-of-the–day event.

The popular Tuesday Play Day program is offered on four Tuesdays in July and then again in August. It sells out at 60 participants, with 30 or more on a wait list. We then offer a choice of four other golf clinics each week to accommodate the kids on our waitlist, as well as kids who want to participate in both programs. The registration fee for Tuesday Play Days ranges from $275–$320, depending on age, and the weekly clinics, which are more instruction-based, are $35–$40. The whole program has created a buzz around youth golf at Miacomet. After 10 years, it has become a fantastic place for kids to learn and play golf. We have more than doubled Tuesday Play Day participation over the years, as well as tripled attendance in our other clinics. We have also tripled the number of private lessons we give to our youth golfers each year.