A new youth golf program created by Sun City Country Club takes golf’s lessons and brings them to where the kids are: schools.
A new youth golf program created by the CEO and owner of Sun City (Ariz.) Country Club takes golf’s lessons in athleticism, good sportsmanship and core values and brings them to where the kids are: schools.
Tom Loegering launched Golf Program in Schools, Inc. (or GPS, which also stands for grip, posture, swing) last year with a pilot program of two classes with 80 kids. The inclusive program, for all high-school freshmen, reaches the students through required physical education classes, and is part of the curriculum.
“People tell me that these kids are too old to learn the game and don’t want to do things with their parents,” Loegering says. “But I’m getting 70% of the kids very interested in the game.”
The volunteer and sponsor-funded nonprofit group offers lessons and instruction to the kids at no cost to the school district. The lessons take place in the school’s gymnasium for three days a week, using foam balls and real golf clubs. At the end of the course, students are invited on a field trip to Sun City Country Club, where they use real golf balls to drive, putt, and chip, as well as learn about golf course etiquette. Students are asked to fill out a survey to earn a certificate of completion, and then receive a junior membership at the club.
“In the summer, it’s 110 degrees here, so no one is playing the golf course, but the kids will because they’re outside all day anyway,” Loegering says. “I want this place overrun with kids in the summertime.”
In December 2015, the program received a Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Contributions to Public Education from the Peoria (Ariz.) Unified School District. Of the 880 kids who have gone through the program, about 53% earned a junior membership card, and two girls from the first class are now on their school’s golf team. Eight hundred physical education classes have signed up for the program, Loegering says, and while Sun City Country Club is currently the only golf course to sponsor the program, it is working to expand into Maricopa County’s 172 golf courses.
“Our goal is to introduce all kids to the game of golf, but more importantly, introduce them to golf’s life lessons, scholarships and career opportunities,” Loegering says. “We’re reaching out to the people that everybody else missed. Kids need golf—not the other way around.”