Steve Loesher, the 2016 Middle Atlantic PGA Section Player Development Award winner, is the PGA Regional Director of Player Development for Billy Casper Golf in Vienna, Virginia.
PGA Junior League Golf is an important initiative led by the PGA of America that allows boys and girls ages 13 and under of all skill levels the opportunity to learn and play golf as a team. The success of this program, and all other PGA programs, doesn’t happen at PGA headquarters, but at your club, your practice range and your municipal course, as well as at my facility, Reston National. Being able to support endeavors like this is our responsibility as PGA Professionals, and in the case of the PGA Jr. League, going into it with a thriving local youth program is definitely the first step to success. With an eye on the annual spring registration date, we start emailing from our database the previous October. An informal notification goes out giving the initial heads up, just to put the idea in their heads. We will email four times between October and March, so when it’s time to sign up, no one can say he or she didn’t know about it. At Reston National, we fill the roster of PGA Jr. League participants, and keep a waiting list for those who didn’t register in time. This is due to the vast success of our facility’s youth program. With over 600 kids in our summer youth camps, we have enough interest to offer spring break camps, youth golf academies, a girls-only camp and subsequent golf team, a high performance coaching program for seriously competitive young golfers, the PGA Drive, Chip & Putt Competition, playing classes and of course, the PGA Jr. League. Building upon the previous year’s participation and being proactive in communication with families is vital to building an effective program.
The results of our due diligence are reflected in our local youth program numbers and those of our PGA Jr. League as well. With 620 youth golfers (ages six through 15) in our programs this year, we were able to easily fill the PGA Jr. League teams with 60 kids. In 2017, we will have 84 spots available and will still have a waiting list. In addition to doing our part in growing the game, the revenues earned from our youth programs help our facility meet short-term financial goals. Our summer camps cost $535 for one week of full day sessions, and $285 for half-day sessions. Seventy percent of the participants choose full days. With so many kids learning the game, practice and play is encouraged as a vital aspect of their continuous improvement. Rounds and range revenues increase. The golf shop benefits from club sales as kids outgrow their old equipment, and hats and shirts sell as well, with kids wanting to wear the club logo while they play. These positive business impacts don’t happen by accident: effective communication and proper planning can boost your youth golf program.