Despite being a registered MYGolf Centre since early 2011, Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide, South Australia is only just starting to see the benefits of having a solid junior program in place. By implementing an enjoyable program that focuses on motor skills, life skills and golf, Kooyonga have signed up numerous MYGolfers since November last year and are continuing to attract more and more children to the game. Excited to have been nominated as the February MYGolf Centre of the Month, the following questions have been answered by their Development Officer and Centre Coordinator, Susie Mathews. Why does Kooyonga run a junior golf program? In our view, a strong junior program is a barometer of the health of the club. At Kooyonga, junior golf sessions are run throughout the year to facilitate the development of current junior members, to introduce as many juniors as possible to the game of golf and to welcome new juniors to Kooyonga. The goal of the junior program is to provide juniors with the fundamental skills of golf so the game can be played and enjoyed for life. The Kooyonga program assists juniors with the development of motor skills, golf skills and life skills. An important aspect of the junior golf program at Kooyonga is to enhance the life skills of juniors, including sportsmanship, integrity, respect, confidence and perseverance. This is integrated into the program through activities on and off the golf course to prepare juniors for future life experiences and to set them up for success. The juniors who wish to progress their skills and involvement in golf will be provided with the opportunity to do so through additional clinics and on course activities. At each session there is a focus on one of the six key skills of the game: long shots, pitching, chipping, bunker shots, putting and manoeuvring the ball. Focusing on the key skills, motor skills and life skills allows all facets of the game to be incorporated into the clinics. Kooyonga is committed to designing golf clinics to foster the enjoyment and appreciation of the game of golf. Who runs the junior golf program? The junior golf program is managed and run by the Kooyonga Golf Club Development Officer, Susie Mathews. Susie is a Professional Golfer and a Community Golf Coach. She brings local, state, national and international golfing experience to the golf program at Kooyonga. Susie s notable achievements in golf include winning the Kalmar Ladies Open (a professional golf tournament in Sweden) , being a member of the UCLA Women’s Golf Team that won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Championship  and being a member of the South Australian State Women’s Golf Team that won the Australian Women’s Interstate Golf Team Matches . In 2006, Susie became a professional golfer and has played on both the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) tour and Japanese Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. She is a current member of the ALPG. The Kooyonga Golf Club Professionals, Mike Sprengel and Matt Deans are also involved in the junior program and provide exceptional golf coaching to the juniors. Mike is a member of the Professional Golfers Association of Australia (PGA) and has 24 years of golf coaching experience. He is highly qualified having been the winner of the Australian Club Professional s Championship and South Australian PGA Championship. Matt is also a PGA member with eight years of teaching experience and is a former SA Trainee of the year. What are the benefits of the MYGolf program and how has Kooyonga has found it? MYGolf has given the junior golfers at Kooyonga a pathway to progress from the practice fairway to the golf course. Since starting the MYGolf program, there has been an increase in juniors transferring their skills from the practice fairway to the golf course. With MYGolf assistance, juniors are given the skills and confidence to go out onto the course to play golf. There has been a huge improvement in standards of all juniors involved. Juniors who have participated in the MYGolf program have grown as golfers. They provide encouragement to each other and have healthy competitions against one another to assist with the improvement of their golf games. The MYGolf program has also highlighted the areas in which each junior needs to focus on to reach the next level. This has provided a way of assessing the areas that need to be focused on for each individual during sessions. Kooyonga has had a very positive response from juniors and parents regarding the program. It has increased the motivation levels of the juniors and has created a challenge on the practice facilities at Kooyonga. MYGolf is a fun way to challenge junior golfers and it provides a pathway in showing what is needed to take juniors to a higher standard. Are there any tips and ideas that Kooyonga can give to run the program successfully? Everyone involved in the MYGolf program at Kooyonga Golf Club has an enthusiastic approach to the program and looks forward to helping the juniors improve their golf games. The juniors are provided with the support and encouragement required to maintain enthusiasm and have fun. At the start of each session the juniors warm-up, stretch and participate in motor skills activities and/or short game challenges. This has created a positive, team-like environment for learning where questions are encouraged and skills are developed. The golfers work together and support each other in the activities undertaken. Juniors take the skills learned at the start of the session to the remainder of the session and this allows for a productive and successful session to be run.
Author: Sarah Kennedy / Golf Australia