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March 2019

Two Operators, Two Questions

What are the biggest challenges to developing a solid junior golf program?

By Steve Eubanks

Spencer Brookman
Director of Golf
Jekyll Island Authority
Jekyll Island, Georgia

Steve Mack
Director of Golf
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
Huntsville, Alabama

Brookman: “The biggest problem, like the game itself, is the time commitment. Getting kids to commit the time to come over here and be involved in a junior golf program is a lot tougher than it used to be. There was a time when the golf camp or the junior program was where kids hung out together, otherwise they didn’t see or communicate with each other. Now they’re communicating all the time and have countless other interests.” 

Mack: “When we were kids you played all the sports – football, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis – you played them all. The challenge today is that kids specialize so early. If you specialize in football, some kids commit to that at age 11 to the exclusion of everything else. So you miss that kid. You miss that kid playing travel soccer or travel baseball. You don’t get that kid playing AAU basketball in the summer. But the worst part is not that you miss them, it’s that they miss out on learning a game they can play long after those other ones leave them.”

What is the most rewarding part of a well-run junior program?  

Brookman: “The really rewarding part is seeing young people embrace the rules and traditions of golf, the honor code of the game, the camaraderie and all that entails. Seeing them grow up and go out into the world with those values knowing that golf, particularly our golf program, helped get them there. That’s incredibly rewarding.”

Mack: “Golf is a vehicle to teach these kids about life. When they come back after college, whether or not they stuck with golf, when they’ve remembered the lessons the game taught them about fair play, honor, how to handle adversity, how to show character in winning and losing: that’s really rewarding.”

 

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