Golf Pro Advisor

Growing Your Junior Golf Program

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As readers of The Golf Pro Advisor know, I regularly stress the importance of increasing your value to your club. This can, in turn, increase your job security, your income, and your marketability (to other clubs).

One way to increase your value to the club is to create a vibrant, growing youth program. This offers several advantages:

  • Grooming a new generation of active golfers and potential members
  • Stimulating increased play
  • Generating income from program fees, lessons, clinics, coaching, and golf shop sales
  • Forging stronger ties with parents and increasing their loyalty to the club and to you
  • Attracting new members

If your club has, say, 300 members, there are probably at least 300 children between ages 5 and 17. Let’s say you recruit a quarter of this group into the golf program.

That could mean real money and, perhaps more importantly, a lot of parents who support the program and whom you develop a closer relationship with.

In developing a youth program, you face two potential problems: family indifference and adult golfer resistance.

You need to convince families that golf is fun, rewarding, and relatively easy to learn. You also need to establish a family friendly culture that encourages informal play on the golf course.

Here are three junior programs recently featured in PGA magazine:

1.  Golf Leagues

  • Program – Mark Keating at Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha, Oregon created teams comprised of boys and girls organized by age group. One team was for 7-13-year-olds. Another was for 14 and 15 year olds.

Mark convinced a number of other Portland area clubs to field teams. Ultimately, there were 12 teams that played not only in the summer but also through the fall.

  • Results – 15% increase (?) in lessonrevenue from kids and additional lessons for parents. Another benefit was the cart rentals from the parents who watched their kids play in the leagues.

2. Club Fitting Day

  • Program – Hugh Matthis at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, New Jerseruns an annual event to fit kids for clubs and golf clothing. The event includes games to keep the kids occupied.

Hugh also promotes Club Fitting Day via the club newsletter, email blasts, and flyers.

  • Results – Some 75 kids participated in the event last year and sales of equipment/clothing increased by 15% over the previous year.

3. Themed Competition

  • Program - Andy Miller at LedgeRock Golf Club in Reading, Pennsylvania runs a Drive, Chip & Putt Championship as part of the junior golf program. Last Fall, he divided the juniors into four teams, each with players of varying ages and skill levels.

Each team had college name – Ohio State – Red; Auburn – Orange etc. This summer he will use an Olympic theme and assign each team a country name.

  • Results – A 3% to 5% increase in overall club revenue. This is the result of not only the program fees but of additional golf shop purchases and food purchases by parents watching their kids play.

These are only three examples. There are more in the Best Practices section on the PGA Magazine site.

It’s not too late to develop fall junior programs. That may a good way to test concepts that you can roll out more formally next year.

As you develop your 2017 junior golf plan this winter, keep in mind the following:

1. Set Goals – Create revenue and participation goals for each program plus ancillary revenue from lessons and golf shop sales

2.  Measure Everything! – If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it

3. Promote Effectively – Send targeted promotions directly to the families with kids as well as general information to the entire membership.

4. Keep Your Golf Committee Informed – Share your plans and program results with your golf committee. Make sure the committee recognizes the impact of the programs!

Are You Teaching the “Mental Game?”


“Golf is 80% mental, 10% ability, 10% luck” - Jack Nicklaus

Mind over Body

If so much of the game is mental, as so many top touring pros contend, why do so few club pros teach the mental game? Many focus almost exclusively on the physical game: swing, stance etc.

I’ve been wondering about this for a while.

It started about five years ago when I was watching an amateur golf tournament. As the winner walked off the 18th green, he nodded to a man in the crowd. I’ll call that man Fred.

I was curious why the golfer had done this and asked Fred about it. It turns out that Fred was the winner’s “golf psychologist”. Fred said he helped the golfer with his mental game.

I wasn’t familiar with the term golf psychologist. But since then, I’ve done a lot of research and become convinced about the importance of the “mental game”.

I now spend a lot of time on my mental game. I think I’ve lowered my handicap as a result.

According to Douglas Juola, author of “GolfNosis: Tee Time for Your Mind” “ … it has been proven that concentrating on the mental side of the game can help golfers by improving their focus, concentration, consistency, and by removing distractions and negative self talk “…

He adds that almost every top professional golfer on the tour uses a golf psychologist or hypnotist.

The Opportunity

Of course, a typical club golfer will probably not hire rock star golf psychologists such as Bob Rotella or Gio Valiante (both PhD’s). But that golfer could hire his or her club pro.

In an era of declining play and diminishing lesson revenue, teaching the mental game could be a win-win-win for your members, your club, and you.

It could help your members improve their games and increase their loyalty to the club. It could also mean more revenue for you.

Getting Started

Your members might be initially reluctant to hire you as their golf psychologist. They might not even know what one is.

They may understand the importance of mental fitness. But you’ll need to educate them about the mental game and how it can improve their overall performance on the course.

You might start by offering a series of one hour workshops.  Topics could include:

  • Maintaining a positive attitude
  • Improving your concentration
  • Visualizing your swing
  • Playing under pressure
  • Monitoring your performance

You might limit attendance in any one workshop to, say, 10 members. Also, you could charge by the workshop or for the entire program.

Use your clinic fees as a benchmark. Perhaps, a single workshop would cost $50 and the entire five workshop series would cost $200.

This may, initially, not be a huge money maker for you. But it could be an effective way to introduce your members to the concept.

The Club Pro as Golf Psychologist

If a member finds the workshops useful, he or she may hire you as his/her golf psychologist.  That is the Holy Grail.

You are no longer waiting around for members to schedule a lesson. You are now a “Coach,” not just a teacher.

As I pointed out in the January and February issues of The Golf Pro Advisor, there are many advantages to being a coach. These include: higher fees and an ongoing relationship with a member.

When you launch your “mental game” program,” you’ll need to promote both the workshops and the coaching program.

Mental Game Teaching Qualifications

If you’ve never taught the mental game, you may wonder whether you’re qualified to do so. You probably are.

You know the mental game even if you’ve never taught it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be a successful golf pro.

But in order to teach the mental game, you need a formal program. You need to “preach what you practice.” That means putting it on paper.

There are a variety of ways to develop your program. One is to get certified to teach the mental game.

To find out more about certification, ask your fellow head pros for recommendations. Otherwise, you can do a Google search for certification programs.

There is also plenty to read on the subject. Amazon lists 526 titles under the term “mental game of golf.”

In addition, there are articles and resources galore on the Internet. A Google search under the term “Mental Game of Golf” yields 32 million results.

By combining what you already know with some research, you can develop the raw material for your program.

Then, you’re on your way to creating a new line of business. It’s also a new way to maximize your income and value to your club.

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