2nd Youth & Family Summit kicks off PGA Show Week with presenters from three continents
By Michael Abramowitz
ORLANDO, Fla. – Some of the foremost experts in the world of youth and family golf kicked off the 2nd Youth & Family Golf Summit on Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center.
The two-day event is an opportunity for PGA and LPGA Professionals to learn the latest innovations in instruction for the youth space. Golf experts from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Costa Rica and Kenya are participating.
A tribute to the history of youth golf instruction began the day, with a cameo appearance by Charlie Rymer, the North Florida PGA Section Secretary and Golf Channel personality. He was joined onstage by PGA members Nicole Weller and Will Robins, as well members of the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development in Orlando.
PGA President Derek Sprague addressed the Summit, which is the opening event of a special week that also includes Demo Day on Tuesday at Orange County National Golf Club & Lodge and the 63rd PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center from Wednesday-Friday. The week’s events will formally launch a 100-day celebration of the PGA of America’s Centennial.
“PGA Professionals have been creating golfers for the past 100 years,” said Sprague, who is also the Managing Director for Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. “They are the best manufacturers of golfers in the world.”
PGA Secretary Suzy Whaley hosted a panel discussion on PGA Junior League Golf, which had 30,000 boys and girls participate in 2015. Over the past two years, the team golf initiative for youth ages 7-13, has experienced a phenomenal growth rate of 233 percent.
“Golf at its essence is about fun,” said Whaley, who has coached two consecutive teams from Connecticut to the PGA Junior League Golf Championship. “In order for us to grow the game, we must always keep this in mind, especially when we talk about youth golf. That is why PGA Junior League Golf centers around fun, while providing a great opportunity for boys and girls to learn and play the game.”
The Summit was hosted by PGA member and SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio host Brian Crowell.
“The PGA Youth and Family Golf Summit brings together many talented and passionate individuals doing groundbreaking work in the youth and family golf business, as well as youth learning areas,” said Crowell. “All of us are here to learn from them, and hopefully, take some ideas back to your community to help grow this game.”
This year’s Summit was expanded to two days to facilitate learning and exchanging of ideas.
“Two years ago when the PGA of America founded the Summit, we believed that one place we could grow the game and drive participation was to create focused youth and family opportunities,” added Summit Chair Rick Murphy, PGA.
Ideas were exchanged on best practices for youth programs.
“Player development is the foundation to drive revenues into the other streams from rounds to food and beverage and everything we are trying to do,” summarized Tom Morton, the 2014 Youth Player Development Award recipient, and PGA Director of Morton Golf and The First Tee of Greater Sacramento.
International experts added a unique perspective to the Summit.
For example, PGA Professionals are a vital key to the growth and development of youth golf programs in Costa Rica, explained Alejandro Duque, one of Costa Rico’s top golfers who has more than 50 professional tournament wins to his credit and is the country’s National Junior Golf Director. “My goal with this program is to have these children playing golf for a long period of time. Our philosophy is play to learn, so games are one of the keys of our program.”
The 2nd PGA Youth & Family Golf Summit continues Monday with a full day of presentations.