This year’s spring golf shows – West Michigan Golf Show and Michigan Golf Show - are in the books. It is always great to interact with GAM members in person and hear their plans for the upcoming golf season. But this year was special because for the first time, we were signing up young golfers for the new (to Michigan) Youth on Course program as well as signing up adult GAM members.
To date we have over 160 youth golfers signed up for the program and 40-plus golf courses committed to being Youth on Course facilities. There are about 30 more courses that have expressed an interest in being part of Youth on Course but have not completed the process quite yet.
As a kid who grew up with a par-3/driving range/putt-putt facility within biking distance of my house, I know how important it was to the development of my long-term love for golf that the game was very accessible AND affordable. This was a big activity for all of the neighborhood kids and, sometimes, for my dad and I on the weekends.
Sadly, that little course is now condos and it can be much tougher for kids today who have discovered a passion for golf to actually get out on the course and play as often as they would like. That is where Youth on Course comes in. This national program that started in Northern California allows youth golfers to play for $5 or less at participating courses. That is 1960s style pricing here in the 21st century!
It costs just $5 for an annual Youth on Course membership. That membership can open doors for budding golfers and help them develop into lifelong aficionados of the game.
In some cases, it probably costs less for a parent to take his two children who are Youth on Course members to the golf course than to a movie.
Earlier this week I was conversing with a friend who is a brand new mom. She is committed to making sure her child does not grow up sitting in front of the television or computer screen all of the time. She plans to introduce him to outdoor activities and foster creative thinking. Golf fits right into her plans as far as it being something active where young folks can learn about patience, trust, problem solving and decision making. All good lessons that come in handy as we navigate life’s ups and downs. But without a program like Youth on Course, she might find it difficult to afford to take her son to the golf course.
This is where a program like this is important. It helps kids to be able to engage in a very wholesome activity, one that can be enjoyed with family and friends for a lifetime.
The Michigan golf season officially begins on April 1 and I am very excited to see all of our Youth on Course players out on the links this season. While many things have changed since I was a kid learning the game, the joy of spending an afternoon on the golf course never gets old or goes out of style.