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Man with a plan

Joshua Jacobs promotes the game among juniors with his innovative Total Golf Adventures.

by Catherine RislingPublished: June, 2011

TGA President and CEO Joshua Jacobs (second from left) with COO and National Program Director Steve Tanner (holding club).

Joshua Jacobs has made promoting junior golf his business.

He first picked up a club at age 3, and as a youngster competed in Southern California PGA Junior Tour and American Junior Golf Association events. Later, he worked as a golf camp counselor and saw a need for overnight camps. He filed the idea away and put his days of competing aside to focus on his career after graduating from college.

Eight years ago, he founded Total Golf Adventures to introduce youths, primarily age 10 to 17, to the game through overnight golf camps. The endeavor was later renamed TGA Premier Junior Golf, which features after-school golf enrichment programs at six Los Angeles schools focusing on life skills and incorporating a heavy dose of educational components.

“TGA is a bridge to the game,” said Jacobs, 34. “We make the game affordable and accessible for kids and their parents by bringing it directly to the masses in schools while promoting a fun and nurturing environment for kids to learn to golf.”

The program serves as a primer to the golf course. Students learn rules, etiquette, stretching, chipping and putting — all the basics of the game — in a round-robin station format. TGA’s program is helping to instill honesty, confidence and responsibility in young golfers.

The program’s five levels build confidence through achievement, says Jacobs, the president and CEO who runs the organization with COO and National Program Director Steve Tanner. The USGA-approved curriculum, developed with golf professionals and education experts, focuses on age-appropriate golf lessons, physical education, rules of the game, character development and academic lessons in math, science, history and English.

“If you build a child’s passion for golf at a young age, the inherent values instilled will help kids in the classroom and at home,” Jacobs said.

Sessions at schools are six-to-eight weeks and coincide with the school year. Lessons can be taught just about anywhere — indoors or out — and TGA provides a student handbook and brings along equipment that includes mats, clubs, targets and Almost Golf training balls.

Outside of the schools, kids participate in TGA camps, tournaments and clinics at partner golf courses.

Today, TGA programs are in 300 Southern California schools, parks and recreation programs. In addition, TGA partners with more than 20 Southern California golf courses, providing a variety of camps and clinics throughout the year.

Instructors include PGA professionals, college students and parents. Some graduates of the program go on to become junior coaches.

Jacobs recognizes the need for golf programs in urban areas. To this end, he formed a non-profit foundation last year to apply for grants and other funding resources. TGA now has programs at schools in Hawthorne and Compton, and efforts have begun to offer scholarships in other areas.

“We’re constantly evolving what we do, how we can provide new opportunities for the kids and their families,” said Jacobs.

More than 120,000 kids have passed through TGA programs in 22 states and more than 2,500 schools. The first lesson ever had 17 students; 14 returned the following session. Repeat participants continue to drive the program’s success.

Gale Gorke, an educational consultant who specializes in after-school curriculums, has worked with TGA the last four years. She’s seen scores of educational programs that work, and few that work well.

The secret to TGA’s success, she says, is just plain old good teaching.

“TGA uses a station curriculum so every kid has something to learn,” Gorke said. “It’s engaging and activity-based education.”

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