Junior Golf

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Junior academies and tournaments

Competition isn't just for the old guys.

by Southland GolfPublished: May, 2012

Many options exist for junior golfers to test their skills and measure improvement against players in the same age group. Ongoing academies and one-time tournaments let juniors truly get a feel for what competitive golf is like.

As with learning a language, taking up the sport at a young age is incredibly beneficial to a junior’s growth and skill level as an adult. The earlier they start the better. Luckily the IJGA, JAGS Tour and Veritas World Junior provide excellent avenues for junior golfers to explore their true potential.

Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy

Hank Haney is renowned as one of golf’s greatest teachers. His list of students past and present is filled with household names, from major winners like Tiger Woods to mysteries like Charles Barkley. When it comes to golf, Haney may have seen it all.

Some of Haney’s most promising students, however, are lesser known. The student body at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy (Hank Haney IJGA) on Hilton Head Island, S.C., has many up-and-coming stars from California poised to make a mark on the golf world.

The current class features students from 27 countries across five continents – something Haney believes makes the academy a truly special place where students learn each day about cultures and traditions.

“Our diverse training environment at Hank Haney IJGA allows golfers a unique opportunity to learn from other juniors from around the world,” says Haney.

Six students represent California - from El Dorado Hills and Pleasanton in NorCal and Fullerton, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates and San Pedro in SoCal.

The Hank Haney IJGA blends premier golf instruction with academics to provide a unique learning environment where students can realize their full potential on and off the course.

Haney personally works with each student’s swing every four to six weeks when he visits campus.

“A recurring theme students at Hank Haney IJGA hear from our instructors is getting the golf club on their own correct swing plane,” says Haney.
Coaching extends far beyond full swing, short game and course management. Golfers also receive fitness training, mental preparation and college placement services. Up to 90 percent of past graduating classes have received college golf scholarships.

While half the day is spent on golf, the other half is spent in the classroom. Students are enrolled at Heritage Academy, a leading academic institution for those highly dedicated to both school and an extracurricular activity such as golf, tennis or horseback riding.

The blend of golf and academic instruction tailored to students’ specific needs has parents from across the world seeking out the Hank Haney IJGA.
Families such as the Adamses of Walnut Creek, Calif., have seen the difference on and off the golf course. Alum Matt Adams is now a freshman on the golf team at Wheaton (Ill.) College.

“The counselors, teachers and support staff made it a perfect place to learn, meet new friends and prepare for college,” says Jon Adams, Matt’s father. “We are very grateful for the opportunity Matt had to chase his dream, and he is now excelling at the collegiate level. It really is an extraordinary place.”

Visit or call (800) 791-8229.

Junior Amateur Golf Scholars Tour

Since the year 2000, Cindy and John Warren have spent almost as much time explaining the ins and outs of junior golf to anxious golf parents as they have conducting more than 150 monthly two- and three-day, nationally ranked golf tournaments throughout Southern California and Arizona.

The JAGS Tour is recognized by college golf coaches for several reasons: course quality, length and ratings; adherence to a minimum 3.0 gpa for Gold members who carry an easily identifiable, gold bag tag; conduct of tournaments within the rules of golf and insistence on integrity, honor, character and good sportsmanship; and open tournament registration to all junior golfers who want to play and improve.

Coaches know JAGS Tour benefits junior golf players and provides monthly opportunities to play and improve the game. JAGS alumni now play in colleges across the U.S. and on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and other professional tours. It’s important that coaches know the Gold members of the JAGS Tour can qualify for admission to their school, which in turn helps them in the recruiting process.

National rankings require an event played over two or more days.  The ranking sites also make player results available for coaches to review performance in events played as well as number of events played reflecting golfer’s interest in junior golf. Coaches can easily compare several prospects looking at player stroke averages, times played, and rankings within states and year of graduation.

The JAGS Tour allows players to keep sharp by learning how to score consistently at different courses with varying conditions. Higher standards required by the JAGS Tour for each player playing within the rules of golf along with displaying honor, integrity, character with good sportsmanship are life lessons all junior golfers need to instill in their daily lives.

Although membership is not a requirement to play on the JAGS Tour, junior golfers who aim high in academics (earning a 3.0 or higher) and become a Gold member receive many benefits not available to Bronze members or non-members on the JAGS Tour.  

College recruits and coaches know the academic standards of JAGS Tour juniors, and JAGS offers monthly, competitive, nationally-ranked tournaments that are reasonably priced and scheduled to avoid missing school events.


Veritas World Junior

The Veritas World Junior’s main objective is to create the world’s largest and most socially energized, annual, major, multi-division, international junior golf championship based in the Los Angeles/Orange County area.

They’re out to grow the game of junior golf by attracting more girls to the game; strategically incorporating fun, social and/or educational activities; incentivizing players to make Veritas participation a goal; and offering organizers valuable Veritas letters of exemption to support tournament development around the world.

The competition comprises international boys and girls playing in 26 individual divisions, ages 6-18, with 150 players per division for a total field of approximately 4,000 players. It operates annually in the Los Angeles/Orange County region beginning in July.

Veritas commences this year with opening ceremonies on July 14 at Dodgers Stadium before a Padres vs. Dodgers game. (The Major League Baseball schedule each year determines whether Dodgers or Angels stadium is used.) Veritas juniors will be invited on to the field for a pre-game celebration. Opening ceremonies will be followed by one day of practice and three days of competition on a variety of golf courses in the region.

Age-8-and-younger divisions play nine holes daily; age-9-and-older divisions play 18 holes. A plan to hold a concluding event at Disneyland is in development.

Veritas has potential with its initial configuration to grow to 5,000 players but holds future potential to grow to more than 10,000 players by introducing split age divisions, i.e. 6.0, 6.5, 7.0, etc.

Veritas World Junior will be operated by a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation with any positive proceeds being committed to support junior golf programs in Southern California.

Promoting the game through tournaments such as the Veritas World Junior ensure juniors a bright future.


5th Annual San Diego Junior Masters Championship

The 5th Annual San Diego Junior Masters presented by Future Champions Golf aims to be one of the largest and most competitive events held each summer! Last year there were tremendous fields in all age divisions including 120 boys, ages 15-18 and more than 100 Girls ages 13-18. A total of 460 junior golfers ages 5-18 competed in the 2011 Event. The event is one of the last opportunities to qualify for Callaway Junior World, is ranked by every Junior Golf Ranking System and has tremendous AJGA PBE.

“We wanted to create an event that would help the local players and the international players better prepare for the Callaway Junior World. This is an amazing opportunity for those players already in Junior World to compete and see where there game is against many of the same players they will face in Junior World. It has proven to be a great prep event as over 20 players have played the Junior Masters and then gone on to wins the Callaway Junior World,” says Chris Smeal, founder of Future Champions Golf. The event also gives those not qualified a chance to earn a spot in the field or gain similar experience to what the Junior World event is like.

The San Diego Junior Masters is a great opportunity for juniors to experience a competitive international field in preparation for the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships. With two amazing events back to back, San Diego is really the place to be in early July,” Megan Mahoney, Executive Director for Callaway Junior World, said.

Just like the Masters Tournament the pros play and an annual par-3 competition at the Sycuan Resort, Pine Glen Golf Course takes place. This event will be played June 30, 2012 and is limited to the first 120 entries.


Future Champions Golf World Championship at PGA West and La Quinta Resort

Last year Future Champions Golf moved their Annual World Championship to the prestigious PGA West and La Quinta Resort and the event was a huge hit! Over 225 players from 20 different countries competed. The event was first class all the way with players playing golf in the early morning, having the afternoon off for pool time fun with friends and each evening there were special events for the whole family.

There was a college night, a Golfsmith Pizza Party and Shopping Experience and a movie night. The competition was very strong among all divisions. Players ages 7-18 are invited to play and the field is limited.

The event kicks of with the 2nd Annual Odyssey World Parent Junior Championship on the PGA West Stadium Course on July 14th.



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Readers Feedback:

1) It depends on what you buy. You can buy combo sets of clubs for US$250-$300 after that, fiugre another $100 on accessories (balls, tees, towel, etc.). Obviously, you can spend a lot more if you're inclined.2) Without seeing you play, it's impossible to give you a set answer. I've never had a formal lesson in my life and I've been playing for 18 years (my handicap index is in the low single digits). I read a couple books and checked out a video instruction series from the library.3) Again it's impossible to answer this question without seeing you play.Typically, friends and romantic partners make the worst possible golf instructors.Two things to focus on when playing:1) Etiquette.2) Pace of play. There are several books devoted to these subjects; before you set foot on a course proper, understand proper etiquette and how to maintain a good pace of play (nobody wants to be stuck behind that group of slow-moving rubes that end up backing everything up so don't be that group). Proper etiquette it's not about having to wear slacks and a pressed shirt, as much as it is about repairing divots and ballmarks, raking bunkers, not standing in someone's line or creating a shadow in their line, being quiet and standing away from someone when they swing, being respectful of your fellow players and the course. Pace of play again, before you set foot on a course proper (i.e. playing a round), you should know how far you hit each club (and it will be different for everyone). A good starting point is to, at a minimum, know how far you hit your 5-iron. As an example, if you hit your 5-iron 140 yards, fiugre 130 for your 6-iron, 120 for your 7-iron, and so on. Look for a yardage marker/sprinkler head, gauge for wind/elevation, and then pull the trigger. You have to be able to make these calculations quickly.Play ready golf (read up on this subject).
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International Junior Golf Academy at Hilton Head was not designed for the 1 week course they sell. Don't do it. They do nothing more than a local swing coach does, and you are paying big bucks for that. Their sales brochure sounds great but they don't give any meaningful instruction to the 1 week guests. The year round students are treated well but not the 1 week students.
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