Youth golf program goes beyond basic teaching of the sport

By Brad Fauber

The PGA Sports Academy’s purpose, at its core, is to promote golf by teaching the nation’s youth about the basic guidelines and fundamentals of the sport. But the academy’s true mission runs much deeper.

The nationwide youth programs operated under the PGA Sports Academy banner don’t limit themselves to simply informing children about the proper way to swing a golf club. Instructors are encouraged to promote an active, healthy lifestyle that goes beyond the skills required to be successful on the links.

“The sports academy model is golf centric in nature, but it’s now devoted to trying to develop overall performance of kids — coordination drills, speed drills, agility drills. Really just helping them to be better athletes,” said Glenn Payne, PGA head golf professional at Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club in Front Royal.

Payne hopes to pass those lessons on to local youth in the coming weeks, as the PGA Sports Academy has partnered up with the Warren County Parks and Recreation Department to offer youth golf programs at Blue Ridge Shadows this summer.

The first of three sessions begins next week and will run from Tuesday through Thursday, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 11 a.m. each day. The second session begins on July 22 and runs through July 24, and the third session lasts from July 29-31. The registration fee for each session is $119 per person.

The PGA youth golf programs are open to boys and girls aged 6 to 17 years old and will focus on developing young golfers in areas such as golf skills, rules and etiquette, sportsmanship and even fitness and nutrition.

“I think we can have a very positive influence on them as far as overall development,” Payne said. “We want them to understand what it takes to be an athlete — the sportsmanship aspect, the proper etiquette.”

Instruction during the two sessions will be done in a group format, and Payne said the goal is to maintain a six-to-one student to teacher ratio. Participants will rotate between the various stations throughout the two-hour time frame, Payne said.

Payne will serve as the primary instructor for the program and could be joined by Blue Ridge Shadows general manager and fellow PGA head golf pro Mike Ahrnsbrak and several shop assistants depending on turnout.

Payne, who has conducted similar programs in the past at other golf courses including Front Royal Golf Club, said he has had participation ranging from eight to 10 children in past sessions and expects somewhere around the same number this year.

“Obviously our goal is to reach more kids, but we’re trying to get this program off the ground,” he said.

To register for the PGA youth golf program at Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club or to receive more information, contact PGA head golf professional Glenn Payne by phone at (540) 631-9661 or by email at info@blueridgeshadows.com.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com