TEGA CAY — Young golf enthusiasts now have a reason to celebrate as they get set to tee off with PGA Junior League Golf, a new program being offered by the Tega Cay Golf Club.
Starting in the middle of May and extending through July, local boys and girls ages eight to 13 will get an opportunity to experience a new format that infuses a team sports concept with traditional golf rules.
With six matches scheduled for the duration of the season, the team comprised of 10 to 12 players will compete in six scheduled matches against various regional teams located around the Fort Mill and South Charlotte area. During matches, players will be paired up in foursomes to play nine holes. Once three holes have been completed, teams will be allowed the flexibility to substitute new players into the action as they proceed along the course.
The top teams from each section will then move on to compete in regional events, followed by a national competition to be held in Atlanta, Ga., sometime in the fall.
Josh Brownell, Director of Golf Operations at the 27-hole Tega Cay Golf Club facility, said his interest to partner with the PGA on this initiative offers unique benefits for many who live in and around the Tega Cay community.
“Junior golf is the future of our game…we’re 100 percent on board and behind it. We want to see it grow”, he said.
After realizing the organic popularity generated while testing their concept in select markets in 2012, the PGA has now launched PGA Junior League Golf as a nationwide campaign to promote the game, build interest with players and their families and provide young golfers with a memorable team experience.
Full-time management and general golf education for this team of young Tega Cay golfers will be provided by Cami Behrer, a PGA and LPGA certified instructor who has been conducting private and group lessons at the club since she came on board four years ago. And while she hasn’t filled up all the spots on her roster as of yet, early signs indicate that parents are warming up to the possibilities of the program and she remains hopeful to recruit enough players by the beginning of the season.
“We want to keep it as fun and as basic as possible. It’s not so much about the score, it’s about the experience out there”, Behrer said.
Clearly, junior players will gain from the physical outlet and discover specific techniques that will help them refine their game, but Behrer also said that at its core, this is a program that encourages youngsters to be more socially interactive.
“I have taken a number of calls recently from parents that want to get their kids outside more and away from the video games”, she said.
Perhaps one of the biggest keys for a successful upcoming season hinges on the importance of family involvement. Behrer hopes that this new format will bring everyone together on the golf course during matches, where parents can enjoy the action as spectators in the gallery or volunteer to participate as match play chaperones.
“When we have a match, there’s four tee times and there’s two children on each team. They play a scramble format and there’s an adult who stays with each group just to make sure that everybody is moving along and so forth”, she said.
Behrer has been teaching the fundamentals of golf to young players for the past two decades since she became a certified LPGA instructor in 1994.
One of the most popular clinics that she oversees at Tega Cay Golf Club is the pee-wee clinic, designed specifically for players aged 3 to 8.
Some might even say that she might even be a little envious of those she teaches, for they are getting a jump start that she herself never had, but after getting to know her for an hour you recognize that such an assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth. In one quick transition it happens, she becomes that 15-year-old teenager again, who felt compelled to sneak her father’s clubs out of the garage and take her first swings in the backyard of her childhood home.
She was immediately hooked and continued playing religiously through high school and then competitively at the national amateur level after she graduated from the University of Maryland.
Behrer did give serious consideration to playing professionally, but ultimately decided to nurture in others what she has so often found echoing along the fairways of this sacred and compelling game.
“It’s definitely a game of integrity and I think it’s a good segue into life because nobody calls the rules on you when nobody’s looking. You have to know when to do the right thing and golf, I think, is a good stepping stone and life lesson for that”, she said.Parents interested in signing their children up for the program can call 704-277-5741, or go to www.pgajrleaguegolf.com. The cost for the season is $175, which covers every expense ranging from team practices to golf course fees, as well as an official team uniform for each player.