Youth and Family Summit, PGA Merchandise Show

Michael Hebron of the PGA of America addresses the crowd during the 1st Youth & Family Golf Summit held Monday at the Orange County Covention Center in Orlando, FL.

Transforming lives: Inaugural Youth & Family Summit

ORLANDO - With a renewed focus on ways to reach two audiences that are essential to growing the game, the inaugural Youth & Family Golf Summit supported by U.S. Kids Golf showcased a variety of dynamic presenters who outlined an array of specific ideas, practices and strategies to a sold-out audience.

The Summit, held today at the Orange County Convention Center, kicked off the week of the 61st PGA Merchandise Show.

PGA of America President Ted Bishop, on his 60th birthday, opened the Summit by  encouraging the more than 200 industry professionals in attendance to take proven programs back to their facilities and communities, applying them through unique and exciting initiatives.

PHOTOS: Check out our photo gallery from the Yough & Family Golf Summit

"My hope for each of you is that you leave here inspired and willing to think outside the box. Don't be afraid to try something new," said Bishop.

With youth participation having declined in recent years, it was the vision of Rick Murphy, the recipient of the first PGA Junior Golf Leader Award in 1988, to put together a strategic event of diversified presenters to help address the issues confronting the industry. Murphy, the Chair of the inaugural Summit, realized that dream with 16 presentations given by 17 different speakers, including eight national PGA award winners.

Attendees included golf industry professionals from Kenya and Spain. Emanuel Kasio, director of "Golf For Kids" in Nairobi, Kenya, took away valuable practices and tools that he believes he can implement in his program.

"This Summit has been way beyond my expectations. I'm overwhelmed by each of the unique presentations and the incredible people I've met already today," said Kasio, one of only two individuals in Kenya who are certified as a U.S. Kids Golf instructor. He uses the U.S. Kids Golf curriculum to teach golf in schools in Kenya.

Rick Grayson, the 2011 national PGA Junior Golf Leader, spoke about driving revenue along with Don Law, the 2012 national PGA Junior Golf Leader Don Law and Dennis Johnsen, who coached his PGA Junior League Golf team to the title in the Illinois PGA Section.

"The future of the game is in your hands," Grayson told the attendees.

Presenters Nicole Weller, the 2013 national PGA Junior Golf Leader, and Brendon Elliott, jointly stressed the simple, yet sometimes overlooked importance of making golf fun for kids at the outset.

Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Bjork, a Distinguished Research Professor in the Psychology Department at UCLA, focused on the science behind how we learn new skills and the art of teaching.

During his presentation on fitness for youth and families, Dr. Gary Gray, CEO of the Gray Institute, summed up a recurring theme that came up throughout the day.

"You are the servants of the game," said Gray. "At the end of the day, you have the power to change children; and make a huge difference in their lives."