The U.S. Golf Association and the PGA of America are partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to introduce youths ages 9 to 12 to the game of golf starting this month with a program that focuses on the swing, basic skills, rules, etiquette and nutrition.

Locally, the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley was selected as a host site, and led by Mitch Johnson, the PGA head golf professional at Napa Valley Country Club, will offer a six-week fall session and a six-week spring session. Johnson and a staff, consisting of Brian Cupid (Napa Valley CC), Kevin Buckles (Chardonnay Golf Club), Cole Thompson (Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club), and Tammy Smith, will serve as instructors.

The program, which starts on Sept. 12, will also focus on promotion of character and healthy lifestyles, while developing the next generation of golfers.

Johnson is the lead professional for the program and is also a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valleys board of directors. He would like to have 24 or 25 kids, both boys and girls, involved in the program. Napa Valley was one of just a few clubs in California that were chosen.

Its an all encompassing program, said Johnson. The goal is, develop kids so they have a basic understanding of golf.

At the end of the classroom sessions, which will be taught at the Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valley, the youths will get an on-course experience. They will get to go to a local course.

PGA Sports Academy curriculum and activities will be utilized, organizers said. The PGA Sports Academy combines golf skills and physical fitness in activities that focus on play, as well as instruction. The PGA Sports Academy offers a sport guide, player guide and champion guide.

Beginning in 46 selected cities nationwide, golf training equipment and instructional support from PGA professionals will be provided through this partnership to help youths build character, develop healthy lifestyles, and learn the game of golf.

What were trying to do at the Boys & Girls Club is to develop character, good health, good decision making. Its a great combination for those things, said Johnson.

Erik Dreikosen, director of operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valley, agrees.

Its just a win-win for everybody, said Dreikosen. I think its a very nice fit. Its just a nice program, it goes along with our healthy lifestyles initiative. It goes along with our character development initiative. Its just a really good match, a great partnership, and were very lucky to have somebody like Mitch whos so passionate about it, to really help us make it a great program.

We were fortunate enough to be selected as one of the pilot sites to implement this program.

Plans call for expanding the program to at least 150 clubs over the next five years.

Through sponsorships and donations, free clubs will be issued to the youths, so that they can begin to understand the golf swing, set up, stance and alignment.

This isnt just geared toward golf, said Johnson. It will make them better athletes as well and more physically fit.

Over the next five years, the PGA of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America will extend the range of golf opportunities to members and their families, including special golf fun days at local Boys & Girls Clubs, family days at local courses, invitations to golf clinics and tournaments, and the development of league play, the USGA and PGA said.

The Napa Valley Country Club mens invitational has donated over $5,000 each year for the last two years to the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley.

Redlands, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Monterey are other cities in the state introducing the program.

We want to train them how to play the golf courses, said Johnson. We want to teach them the rules and etiquette, and thats a big part of the program. We want kids that come out of this program to understand what the games about, at least introduce them, so later in life if they do decide to take it up, theyll be ready to do it.

Youths must be a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley in order to take the class.

It really could be something thats a game changer for the game of golf and to try to grow it. Im really looking forward to the program, said Johnson.

To sign up and become a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley, contact Dreikosen at 255-8866, ext. 119, or edreikosen@thepositive place.org, or Lana Bracklin at 255-8866, ext. 114, or lbracklin@thepositiveplace.org[1][2][3]

The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Womens Open, U.S. Senior Open, and 10 national amateur championships. It also conducts two state team championships and international matches.

Over the summer, Johnson directed a Napa Valley junior golf league, which enabled youths to play at different courses in the area and also receive instruction, for a minimal cost.

Silverado Resort and Spa, Napa Valley CC, Chardonnay, Eagle Vines and Napa Golf Course all hosted events.

There were 20-26 kids at each event, which culminated with a tournament and barbecue at NVCC.

I got a lot of great feedback, said Johnson.

References

  1. ^ edreikosen@thepositive (napavalleyregister.com)
  2. ^ place.org (place.org)
  3. ^ lbracklin@thepositiveplace.org (napavalleyregister.com)

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