GFAA Best Practice: Implement Fitness into Your Junior Golf Program

Erin Craig, the 2020 Northern Ohio PGA Section Youth Player Development Award winner, is a PGA Assistant Professional at North Olmsted Golf Club in North Olmsted, Ohio.

Erin Craig on the importance of implementing fitness into your junior golf program:

At North Olmstead Golf Club, we feel it is important to include a fitness component in our junior golf instruction. Our junior golf camps have sold out for the summer, as we teach kids how to swing the club and place a focus on etiquette, rules, sportsmanship and even how to practice. With this variety of topics, adding golf fitness to our station-based camps ensures a widely-holistic experience for our participants. The ages and skill levels of our junior camp participants range from seven-year-old beginners to 15-year-old high school golfers. As such, we strive to teach the kids about the muscles that they’ll use on the golf course. After all, the more they know about the role their bodies play in their progression through golf, the better equipped they will be as teens and young adults. The Athletic Skill Building Station is supported by Cleveland Clinic Sports Health physical therapists and TPI-certified athletic trainers. We have tried to make our camps a little different from many others that kids may experience, and the partnership with Cleveland Clinic Sports Health satisfies that goal. They have aided in our charitable programming endeavors, and that engagement has carried over into our junior golf instruction camps. A physical therapist from the Cleveland Clinic will usually bring another individual to assist in engaging the kids. They work on movements that are similar to the golf swing – throwing a football and kicking a ball – activities that encourage your weight to retract prior to releasing the energy that has built up. When students come to the full swing station, we ask them to “remember how you threw the football” and to emulate the movements involved.

Erin Craig on the business impact of implementing fitness into your junior golf program:

Providing a well-rounded program will benefit our young students in more than just golf. In fact, with the athletic skill building station being all about running, jumping, kicking and throwing, we make sure the kids understand that the better overall athlete they are, the better golfer they will be as well. The fitness component is an important part of all summer junior camps. We generally have 40 kids per camp, but allowed for greater numbers before the pandemic. In addition to two golf pros, two physical therapists and an intern, we have nearly a dozen volunteers who help ensure students are rotating from station to station correctly, and that they comprehend the material we’re teaching them in each of the stations. Every one of our staff members and volunteers has golf experience, so kids are truly getting an extensive, detailed and diverse education. The volunteer base is derived from the charitable organization that owns our golf course. “The Turn” provides opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities to improve their health and wellness through non-clinical fitness and recreation programs. Adding golf fitness to our traditional junior programming is consistent with our greater overall mission.

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