Could the COVID-19 pandemic ignite a love for the game of golf in the generation to come?
It's not out of the realm of possibility, considering the incredible surge being experienced by Youth On Course since March. YOC has gained nearly 30,000 new members ages 6-18 from June to mid-July. During that time frame, YOC members across North America played 2,649 rounds of golf on June 30th alone, setting a new YOC single-day record.
CEO Adam Heieck reports that YOC rounds are up 65 percent nationwide and membership is up 50 percent, year over year. YOC is now available at close to 1,500 courses in nearly 40 states and Canada. Recent additions include the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama, courses in Alaska and Delaware and coming soon, New York. Playing golf costs only $5 for members at participating facilities.
“We really don’t see much slowing of that growth," Heieck said. "We’ve been up year over year about 50 percent each of the last three years. We are really excited about the future and about what golf and Youth On Course can do for young people nationwide.”
Junior golf is experiencing its high season right now with schools out for summer and the fact that other youth sports are on hold due to social distancing guidelines. July is also Family Golf Month with Troon Golf, the largest golf operator in the country. Troon Golf is offering free lessons and free junior golf after 3 p.m. - both with paying adults - at certain facilities. For more, check out its website.
Youth On Course has a special promotion of its own upcoming. YOC week - #YOCweek on social media platforms - is set for Aug. 10-14. Youth on Course, which was launched in 2006 by the Northern California Golf Association and quickly grew into a separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization, also offers the opportunity for teens to become interns and caddies at select courses and earn scholarship money for college. All of these YOC initiatives have potential to grow the game.
"We really try and build a community with our members and make sure we are partnering with facilities that are welcoming," Heieck said. "From there, as kids play more, they tend to enjoy it more. They tend to get better. Of all the quote-unquote growth of the game initiatives in golf, we are biased, but Youth On Course probably has more staying power in that regard. That has proven out over the last few years."
To learn more or sign your child up for Youth On Course, visit YouthOnCourse.org.