Junior Tour, Youth on Course at Top of the List
Placing an emphasis on junior golf, the Alabama-NW Florida Section PGA unveiled its initiatives for 2021.
In addition to its continuing partnership with the Alabama Golf Association for Youth on Course, the Alabama-Northwest Florida Section PGA will support its junior tour, scholarship program, PGA Jr. League and Drive, Chip & Putt competition.
The focus is to put a premium on its #LETSGOPLAY initiative it introduced in the summer of 2018.
“Over the last three years, ‘Let’s Go Play’ has become more than just a social media tag – it’s an invitation,” Hayden Lewis, PGA manager of communications & foundation development, said in a release. “We believe everyone who plays the game of golf was originally invited to it in some form or fashion. We want to instill this into all of our programming, and ensure junior golfers feel welcomed no matter their background or ability. This is also true in life – we hope this invitation doesn’t stop at the golf course and can translate to other parts of our lives.”
The Junior Tour has become the flagship junior golf program of the Alabama-NW Florida Section PGA, boasting a steady growth in overall participation by at least 6% in 2019 and 2020. In 2021, the Tour will enter its 11th season with over 22 events between May and August. The Junior Tour crosses competition with development opportunities for its players, and ultimately, aspires to be the most valuable competitive golf experience for juniors in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Alabama-NW Florida Section On Board with Youth on Course
Making its return for a second season, Youth on Course Alabama will be available for all 2021 Junior Tour members through the Tour’s partnership with the Alabama Golf Association. The core purpose of Youth on Course is to help young people grow and succeed both on and off the course by providing opportunities to play and build relationships through affordable, inclusive access to facilities for $5 or less.
“We are thrilled to enter the 2021 golf season with our friends at the Alabama Golf Association, and to continue our collaborative efforts to bring more access to golf facilities for youth across our Section,” Executive Director Bart Rottier said. “Youth on Course has become an instrumental accompaniment to our Junior Tour Membership, and promises to make a difference in the lives of junior golfers for years to come.”
In 2020, the Junior Tour saw a 27 percent participation rate for Youth on Course Alabama among its membership. Registration for the 2021 Junior Tour season and Youth on Course Alabama is now open.
The Alabama-NW Florida Golf Foundation, an arm of the Alabama-NW Florida Section PGA, also unveiled its 2021 Scholarship Program. Established in 2020, the Scholarship Program exists to encourage and promote the attainment of higher education for youth who have demonstrated a high level of achievement during high school or college, have financial need, and have shown interest in the game of golf.
The Foundation awards scholarships to students who have participated in the Alabama-NW Florida PGA Junior Tour and students who have a direct lineage to a PGA Professional currently residing in the Alabama-NW Florida Section. In 2020, the Foundation awarded scholarships totaling $7,500 to four students.
“The Scholarship Program is symbolic to us for many reasons,” Foundation President Eric Eshleman said. “The COVID-19 pandemic took a lot away from our normal operations last year. When we came to the table to share these scholarships, we wanted them to be meaningful for PGA Members and families in our Section – a long-time dream turned reality. We hope these scholarships become something similar in the lives of the students who receive them and remind them that their dreams are also valid – no matter how big or small.”
Drive, Chip & Putt Schedule Released
The Alabama-NW Florida Section PGA also released the Drive, Chip & Putt qualifying schedule after last year’s competition was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail will host four local and one sub-regional qualifier this summer.
- June 8 – RTJ Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove, Mobile
- June 13 – RTJ Golf Trail at Hampton Cove, Owens Cross Roads
- June 22 – RTJ Golf Trail at Silver Lakes, Glencoe
- July 6 – Bent Brook Golf Course, Bessemer
August 22 – RTJ Golf Trail at Capitol Hill, Prattville
“Our relationship with these local PGA professionals and the RTJ Golf Trail to conduct these qualifiers has been phenomenal over the last several years,” Rottier said. “We could not be more excited to help bring DCP back this summer, and add to the memories it creates for thousands of kids and their families across our Section.”
In 2018 and 2019, the section played host to over 1,100 junior golfers in 10 local and sub-regional qualifiers. Registration for the 2021 qualifying season is now open here.
The PGA Jr. League Section Championship is set for Aug. 8-9 at Valley Hill Country Club in Huntsville. The PGA Jr. League has become a game-changing opportunity for PGA Professionals to bring communities together through fun, team golf experiences. Since 2018, over 2,200 junior golfers participated in PGA Jr. League in the Alabama–NW Florida Section. PGA Captain and players registration is now open.
More information about all of the Alabama-NW Florida Section junior golf initiatives visit here.
By Alabama Golf News staff