Cole Handley: Start a Youth on Course Program

Cole Handley, the Northern California PGA Section Monterey Bay Chapter Vice President, is the PGA Director of Golf and Head Professional at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, California.

Golf teaches us so many important and long-lasting life lessons every time we tee it up, which is why it is such a great game for kids. Providing youth with access to affordable golf is the core of “Youth on Course” — a program started by the Northern California Golf Association. Youth on Course (YOC) members play golf at hundreds of participating courses for five dollars or less, mostly at times of the day that are non-revenue producing for the facility. While player development programs like PGA Junior League Golf and The First Tee teach kids about the game and important life skills, YOC makes it affordable for them to play.

Last year at Poppy Hills, we had 435 rounds played as a part of the YOC program. With the kids paying five dollars and YOC supplementing us with another $10 per round, that brought in approximately $6,500 of revenue we certainly would not have seen had we not adopted this program. The YOC Caddie Program has also been great for us. Every summer, our putting green is scattered with YOC members dressed in their all whites ready to do a loop. It’s been great for overall energy and the YOC caddies tend to be less intimidating than the “professional” caddies. Our YOC caddies loop for as low as $20 (plus gratuity directly from their player) with YOC kicking in $50 towards a college scholarship for the caddie for each loop. At the end of the day, it’s a completely unique experience for the same price as a golf car. Finally, it’s given us a pool of future employees and customers. We’ve been lucky in that the YOC kids here at Poppy Hills are an awesome group and their knowledge of the sport makes them ideal candidates for our guest services staff. We have hired five kids directly from this program. Along with finding employees, many of the kids are encouraging their parents to play, making their school golf teams, going to college and becoming regular paying adult golfers. All that adds up to the future business every course is looking for in a player development program.