ORLANDO, Fla. -- The volume was turned up on The Black Eyed Peas' "I Got a Feeling," and the background lyrics fit the mood of a junior clinic conducted at the PGA Equipment Forum stage on Jan. 29, which showcased a vibrant fitness element of the new PGA Sports Academy's curriculum.
PGA Director of Fitness & Performance David Donatucci, joined by PGA District 1 Director Suzy Whaley, led 20 juniors ages 9 to 13, representing the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida for an energizing hour-long fitness program to cap the 58th PGA Merchandise Show. The youngsters participated in a series of exercises designed to show the PGA Sports Academy's curriculum featuring fitness and nutrition.
Joining the clinic was Andrea Cernich of Silver Spring, Md., director of Strategic Partnerships for the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Cernich referred to The PGA of America generating a "Let's Move on Course" initiative at the 2010 PGA Championship, which aligned with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign to fight childhood obesity.
"The PGA of America is an important partner to us in gaining access to parents and kids who look up to PGA Professionals as role models," said Cernich. "I thought that David did a wonderful job of leading the kids through this clinic. It helps to let kids see golf as a fun game and it was evident that the kids had fun today. This program is one example of how we look for leadership from all sports, and certainly golf is demonstrating that leadership."
Whaley, chair of the PGA Junior Golf Committee, is a mother of two daughters who are active in golf. Whaley worked up a sweat while joining the youngsters in the exercise rotation.
"To be honest, what we did today is pretty similar to what I have tried to implement into my own programs back home," said Whaley, a PGA clinician at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. "We have learned so much about exercise and sports from other countries, and so why not put it to work through golf programs? All of what we have offered is adaptable. We all are sharing in the results of how well we present this to juniors."
Donatucci said that he was encouraged by the reception of the clinic by both youngsters and PGA Professionals.
"We are definitely going in the right direction, incorporating the fitness element at an early age, and I believe that any professional can look at the curriculum and say, ‘I can do that,' " said Donatucci, who operates his own program at the PGA Golf Center for Learning & Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla. "The long-range plan is that we are improving their game and performance through the exercise component. I look at what we are doing and see how this program can touch so many people."
Latoya Adams, site coordinate for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida said that the youngsters were eager to head to the nearby indoor golf practice range after the exercise program.
"Kids don't get to work out at school, and we have incorporated the after-school program just to do that – give them the needed exercise," said Adams. "What I've seen here today is really good; it keeps them moving and motivated. These children have not had golf training, but I think that they are sincerely interested. This is all about rewards and retention."
PGA Sports Academy's curriculum blends five core elements in offering a phased approach to overall mental and physical youth development, while developing lifelong golfers. The elements can be integrated into existing junior programs – or be fully adopted as a turnkey solution by facilities that are seeking a fresh approach to junior programming.
The five core elements of PGA Sports Academy are:
- Golf Skills
- Physical Skills, Fitness and Nutrition
- Sportsmanship, Rules and Etiquette
- Play Activities and On-Course Experiences
"Change is hard, but we have to make a change for the better otherwise what you see in this room [pointing to a packed Show floor at the Orange County Convention Center] will not be here in the future," said former PGA Independent Director Mary Bea Porter-King of Lihue, Hawaii, a member of the PGA Junior Golf Committee. "I thought that this presentation was excellent."