PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Six teams of kids ages seven to 13 will be competing for the first-ever PGA Junior League Golf Championship at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club outside of Chicago, Sept. 14-16. Teams from Atlanta, Boca Raton, Houston, San Francisco, Western New Jersey and the home city of Chicago will play a series of 9-hole matches to determine the champion.
Coordinated by The PGA of America and LEJ Sports, the PGA Junior League Golf is a new team concept for aspiring young golfers, similar to "Little League Baseball." More than 1,800 children competed on more than 120 teams from 22 markets participating in league play throughout June and early July. Following the regular season, teams competed in City Championships and then Regional Championships. The five Regional champions, plus the team from Chicago, will compete for the championship two weeks prior to the Ryder Cup.
"Just as the world's best players are gathering in Chicago to compete for the Ryder Cup, a great group of junior players of all skill levels will be coming together to crown a champion at the junior level," said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. "The PGA is dedicated to growing the game and we are proud to implement a team concept for kids just like soccer, baseball and other sports. This type of program goes a long way toward getting more families involved in golf."
The teams will arrive at Cog Hill for a practice round on Friday, Sept. 14. They have been divided into an East Conference (Atlanta, Boca Raton, New Jersey) and West Conference (Chicago, Houston, San Francisco) with teams playing two matches within their conference on Saturday, Sept. 15, and one inter-conference match on Sunday, Sept. 16. They play 9-hole matches with points awarded based on number of holes won. Coaches can substitute players every three holes ensuring all team members play. The championship trophy will be awarded at a closing ceremony following play on Sunday.
"This championship is the culmination of a great first year," said Wronowski. "We certainly salute the players and their families for their success. We have built a great foundation for the PGA Junior League Golf and expect to see incremental growth in this program in the years to come as more and more parents and kids discover golf as a great team sport and family activity."
PGA Junior League Golf is designed to bring young players together to learn the game among their peers and under the direction of PGA/LPGA Professionals serving as team captains. Parents are also encouraged to play an active role in the administration of matches and leagues, making the Junior League program a family activity with the capability to create another generation of players to enjoy the game. No previous playing experience is required and players of varied skill levels filled out the teams.
PGA Junior League Golf allows young golfers to enjoy the bonding associated with team sports without losing the competitiveness of a structured league environment. Much like other league sports, PGA Junior League Golf participants receive team uniforms with jersey numbers. Matches are coed, two-person scrambles, which reinforces the team concept and limits the pressure on any one player.
The program will be available nationally in 2013, giving facilities across the country the chance to host a PGA Junior League team. For more information on PGA Junior League Golf, visit www.pgajrleaguegolf.com.
LEJ Sports, based in Norcross, Ga., has a history of creating, implementing national grassroots initiatives that drive youth and family engagement with major sports organizations such as The PGA of America. Some of these include Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run, Junior NBA/Junior WNBA Skills Challenge, iHoops Skills Challenge, Junior Olympic Skills Competition, and NBA All-Star Gatorade Jam Session Invitational.
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.