With one local club pro noting that there are now only “a few kids who can break 40 [for nine holes]” in the region’s PGA section, clubs in the area are stepping up efforts to develop and promote academies, camps, clinics and parent-child tournaments.
As country clubs and golf courses in New York state’s “north country” open for a new season, managers are trying to put a special emphasis on attracting younger players and their families, the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times reported.
While having loyal customers is great for the golf courses, there are fewer youngsters showing up to play, Kevin Maginn, the PGA-certified General Manager and Director of Golf at Partridge Run Golf & Country Club in Canton, N.Y., told the Daily Times.
“If golf courses don’t do something for the younger generation, golf courses are going to be having serious problems in the future,” Maginn said. “That generation is going to grow up and find something else to do.”
In recent years, Maginn told the Daily Times, he has seen fewer youth participants in the game and a lower competition level at high school golf matches.
“Section 10 golf used to be very strong,” Maginn said. “Now, there are only like four kids who can break 40 [on nine holes] in the entire section.”
Tom Siddon, General Manager and Director of Golf at Malone (N.Y.) Golf Club, also told the Daily Times that he thinks more needs to be done to promote the game among children. Getting players involved at a young age is important to developing their long-term interest in the sport, Siddon noted.
“A lot of people do not pick the game up in their 20s and 30s, because that’s when life hits you,” he said. “If you start out early, at least you will try to continue it.”
In an attempt to improve youth-participation numbers in the region, Maginn has been running a youth golf camp for several years, the Daily Times reported. The camp is “designed to get kids interested in the game of golf,” he explained, because simply getting children on the course to see what golf is like is a key first step in making them lifelong lovers of the game.
Malone GC also offers a father-son/daughter golf tournament in June, which promotes parents playing with their children to spread the game, the Daily Times reported. Another club in the region, Potsdam (N.Y.) Town & Country Club, has also scheduled a junior golf clinic for Wednesday mornings through July and August, the Daily Times reported.
Both Siddon and Maginn also spoke favorably of the North Country Junior Golf Tour, which offers a competitive atmosphere for junior players who want to take the game seriously.
“The North Country Junior Tour is fantastic,” Maginn said. “That is one of the best things you can do for the game of golf.”
The tour includes tournaments through July and August at Massena (N.Y.) Golf and Country Club, Potsdam Town & Country Club, Malone Golf Club, Partridge Run Golf & Country Club and St. Lawrence University’s Oliver D. Appleton Golf Course in Canton, N.Y.
Partridge Run, the Daily Times reported, is also planning a golf academy for those who are looking to advance their game. “I want to get the 12- to 17-year-olds involved,” Maginn said, noting he is looking to run his academy on Wednesdays at Partridge Run. The goal, he added, would be to get a portion of the 7- to 10-year-olds from his junior camp to join the academy after they age out of the junior option.
Above all, the Daily Times reported, Maginn wants to spread the game of golf to younger players to help keep the sport alive and show kids it is something they can enjoy for a long time, either competitively or as a hobby.
“It’s the sport of a lifetime,” he said. “You don’t have to take it seriously, but you can play it your whole life.”