Looking to grow golf among younger players, three Williamsburg area golf clubs will field teams in the PGA Junior League program this summer, one for the first time.
Open registration is ongoing for kids ages 13 and younger at Ford’s Colony Golf Club and at Two Rivers Country Club, which is offering the junior league program for the first time. At The Club at Kingsmill, which hosts an LPGA tournament in May, registration is by invitation only. The season begins in early June.
Ford’s Colony started a junior league team four years ago with just seven kids, and last year, it had 20. Eric Simmons, Ford’s Colony director of instruction, has been pleased with the growth of the program.
“When I got here, we really didn’t have too many things (geared) toward juniors,” Simmons said. “Not to say that Williamsburg is known for its junior events, because the average age of our memberships is 72, but I figured there has to be some kids in Williamsburg who want to play golf.”
Simmons said Ford’s Colony started its junior program small, with the junior golf league, after school clinics and summer camps, and it has grown from there. He will take kids as young as five, under one condition.
“What I tell parents is, ‘Can they pass the bug test?’ And what that means is that, if we’re hitting balls and a bug flies by, does he chase it,” Simmons said. “If he does, if he gets distracted by small things, he’s going to get hurt. Maybe next year.”
While there’s only the summer season of sanctioned PGA Junior League play, Ford’s Colony also has a spring season, a fall season with the Mid-Atlantic PGA, and a winter series just for its younger club members, those younger than 17.
At Two Rivers, golf pro Marin Warring said the club wanted to start a team this year as an offshoot of its junior clinics that it does every weekend during the summer. She believes the kids will have more fun competing rather than just hitting on the driving range or taking part in the clinics.
“We weren’t getting enough people doing them, and we wanted to just let the kids be able to compete,” Warring said. “That’s the main part, not just going out and practicing. They need to be able to learn the game by playing with other kids.
Warring sent emails to all its members seeking players. She expects to have enough players to field a full team, with six players having already signed up and a minimum of eight needed in order to not forfeit a match.
“Some of them actually haven’t played that much golf, so it’s going to be interesting how they do and if they can get better throughout the summer,” Warring said.
Warring, who went to high school at Lafayette and was twice an all-Old Dominion Athletic Conference first team golfer at Bridgewater, said she’s looking forward to seeing the younger golfers develop in a more competitive atmosphere.
“I just hope they’re able to learn the basics of the game,” Warring said, “not only to just go out and play, but maybe to have the mindset to go out and practice once in awhile.”
PGA Junior Golf League sign-ups
PGA Junior Golf League is open to players ages 13 and younger at the following area courses — Ford’s Colony Golf Club, The Club at Kingsmill and Two Rivers Country Club.
Sign up information, including program costs and contact information, is available at pgajrleague.com. Registration at Kingsmill and Two Rivers closes May 1. At Ford’s Colony, registration closes June 20.
Registration at Kingsmill is by invitation only, while Ford’s Colony and Two Rivers has open registration.