Youth on Course sees early success in Iowa
Time sure flies – and success continues to grow.
As you may or may not know, in 2018 Iowa became the 21st state to offer Youth on Course. Youth on Course (YOC) started in 2006 by the Northern California Golf Association. At its most basic level, it is a program that subsidizes rounds of golf for juniors at participating courses. It has become very popular and, in 2014, the NCGA began expanding the program to other states and regions, spreading essentially from west to east. Recently it was announced that YOC will soon be available in all 50 states.
Many IGA Member Clubs that offer the program, from across the state, have seen tremendous success since it’s launch in 2018, including Hunters Ridge Golf Course (Marion), Jester Park (Granger) and AH Blank, Waveland Golf Course and Bright-Grandview Golf Course (Des Moines). Any junior boy or girl age 6 to 18 can join Youth on Course for a $15 yearly fee. A YOC membership allows them access to any participating Youth on Course facility (there are over 1,200 nationally) to play a round of golf for $5 or less.
“Youth on course has lowered the cost barrier for families who are interested in getting kids involved in golf,” Rocky Sposato, General Manager / COO of Terrace Hills Golf Course, Waveland Golf Course, AH Blank Golf Course and Bright-Grandview Golf Course said. “It (YOC) has made a huge impact on the future of the golf industry by making golf affordable and accessible for our future golfers.”
Youth on Course in Iowa continued to grow in 2020 as membership grew 73%, while rounds played increased by 60% across all participating facilities.
“We have a good number of kids that utilized the program and have really done the advertising and marketing for us,” Nate Severin, Club Manager and PGA Professional at Hunters Ridge said in regards to the spike of YOC rounds at his course. “I think the best way to have success with this program is making sure the kids and parents have a firm grasp of the rules of when they can/can’t play. Every professional/club manager likes to see kids getting into the game of golf. It’s nice to see parents getting behind them and introducing the sport of golf. It also gives the parents a nice discount on letting the kids tag along for a quick nine, or make it a full 18 on a nice evening.”
Jeff Chiodo, PGA Professional at Jester Park GC, also commented that developing relationships with members of YOC is important in the success of the program.
“It’s been important to us (at Jester Park) to develop those relationships and make sure they feel wanted at the course,” Chiodo said. “We like to ask them how they played after the round and about their experience. We have the Par 3 course here as well, which helps. We are able to direct kids as best we can either to the Par 3 course or the main course based on playing ability, pace of play, but also making sure they feel comfortable when they are here.”
Chiodo also mentioned he uses a variety of avenues to promote the program including through social media, email marketing, junior camps held at Jester Park GC and through his involvement with PGA Junior League.
Currently, Iowa has 30 courses throughout the state that participate in Youth on Course but would like to add more.
“We are hopeful that more courses will sign up as a participating facility,” said IGA CEO/Executive Director Chad Pitts. “The program is great because you can set certain times when YOC rounds can be played so you can drive traffic to your non-peak hours. Plus, it has been shown that roughly 50% of all YOC rounds are played with an adult who pays a full fee, so it truly does become a win-win for the course”.
If you are interested in signing up as a participating facility, please fill out this link or contact the IGA office and we can get you all the details.
For more information about Youth on Course in Iowa visit https://iowagolf.org/youth-on-course/.