leezer99, on 06 December 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:
DGord10, on 05 December 2018 - 11:44 PM, said:
While I understand some of the views above, I think that I have a different perspective of the program.....
My son has participated in PGA Jr League for the last 3 summers - the first two at our local club and this past summer farther away on the IL Cog Hill team that made it to the finals at Greyhawk. We purposely went out of our way this summer to put him in the much better program at Cog Hill in order to have the opportunity to go to post season and potentially to the national finals - he is 13 and a very good junior golfer and the "regular" season PGA Jr League wasn't worth the time and effort if there wasn't potential for post season. While he had some fun the first two summers, he was really the only good golfer on the team and found it fun only because he was playing with a good friend (who wasn't much good) and got a chance to play on local country club courses which were very nice and new to him - decent way to spend a couple of hours when he was 11 and 12 but nothing more and sometimes pretty frustrating for him as so many of the kids had trouble even getting bogies/double bogies in a scramble format. But, after talking to some friends who had previously been to the national finals through Cog Hill, there was no question that for a good junior the prize was post season play and potentially getting to the finals. If we hadn't gone to Cog then we probably wouldn't have bothered and so the potential lure of the special aspects of post season kept both my son (and some of his peers at the same level as my son) participating when otherwise they wouldn't have bothered, instead just focusing on regular tournaments.
Based on what I've observed, in my opinion there are two very different aspects to the program, each of which are critical for the program and the PGA - the regular main program during the season which had 51,000 participants this past summer which is mainly focused on younger kids and kids just getting into golf - very basic and entry level - and completely separate is the post-season which is purely a reward/focus to keep the better kids interested and participating - high level kids, coaching and opportunity. By participating on the Cog all star team, my son got to play alongside some of the other top juniors in the area, get coached by one of the top local coaches and got to practice on Dubsdread (one of the top courses in the area where for many years they had PGA events). Both aspects to the program have their place, benefits and importance to the PGA but they do have to be separated when people think about PGA Jr League. As a result, though it probably hurt my son's team a bit compared to a couple of other teams who recruit and plan more centrally across their state (the Cog team is regional based on word of mouth and friends bringing in friends but not recruited in a top down way like I heard some of the other teams were), I don't have a problem with recruiting and stacking the all star team and I don't have a problem with the PGA creating, fostering and enhancing the post season for the better golfers.
If it was just regular season the PGA would lose the interest of the better kids and I think that having the better kids still participate through age 13 (and I think next year through age 14) benefits the regular season program by having the younger kids and kids new to golf get some exposure to the better older kids. By having the goal of a national finals put on and paid for by the PGA and run like a quasi-PGA event (even with 3 days of practice rounds before the three days of tournament play), the PGA provides a good reason for kids like my son to stay involved. The quality of junior golf at the national finals was incredibly high - clearly with a lot of the top 12/13yr old boys and girls in the country represented. My son played in 13 individual tournaments this season and would never have bothered with PGA Jr League otherwise since he had a full schedule - but as a result of this post season aspect of the program, my son had one of his best yet golf experiences and created some incredible memories (up there with going to US Kids Worlds and another international tournament at PGA National).
What made it truly priceless was that on the way back from AZ my son told us that going to the national finals and the whole experience there may be the biggest highlight of the entire golf season for him (and not to toot his horn but to truly show what this finals experience meant to him, it was a season in which he won 7 tournaments, was player of the year for his age group, qualified for and played pretty well in two big local tournaments primarily for much older kids at full distance and satisfied a number of other key goals he had).
As a result, I think that the PGA has found way to create a program which is very successful and beneficial for new/young kids as well as capable of providing an amazing and worthwhile experience for more accomplished kids. I admit that I was skeptical (and might have a different perspective if the goal of making to the national finals didn't pan out), but based on this experience I would encourage parents of more elite junior golfers to see if there is a good team in the broader area that might have a chance to go far in the post-season because that experience could be valuable even for those kids who have otherwise passed by the basic PGA Jr League program. I give the PGA a lot of credit for this "dual" program approach and for putting such great resources into both.
So instead of sticking with your local team and having your son use his talents at golf to show leadership to a younger less accomplished group of golfers you instead gave up on them leaving them for fodder to join an already stacked team so that he could play in an event that is fun yet inconsequential, whereby you are teaching him that to get ahead you shouldn't start from the ground up but instead take a shortcut and join an already established juggernaut. Got it.
Hmm, very cynical and harsh view - hard to know why. If you have kids playing competitive golf, you know that there is only so much time in the day/week and summer and that ultimately you have to make hard decisions as to what to spend time doing that maximize the benefit to your kid and rationalize time spent by the parents as well. At the age of 13 all golf events can be viewed as inconsequential - but you again are wrong about this in general and wrong about this event being inconsequential in the development of a youth golfer as these type of national events that bring together kids from all over are indeed important for so many reasons that I won't bother to explain since they should be obvious. Sure, things get more and more consequential as he gets older but the right exposure to great experiences over time builds passion and a foundation that are invaluable - I have seen it happen with my son every time he has had an opportunity like this.
"Donating" time and effort in this program is a silly perspective - his local team had few practices with few interactions and would have been a complete waste of time from his perspective and our perspective, while his Cog team had regular practices and more interaction among the kids and the coach - if we are going to spend time and effort donating time to help youth golf it will be through our local first tee (and my son has already expressed an interest in getting involved in that for next summer). Why you think that I should "sacrifice" a tremendous developmental opportunity for my kid on the alter of idealism for everyone is truly baffling. There is a time and place to donate time, effort and money - and when you are doing it, that is what you are focusing on and trying to maximize - and there is a time to focus on your own kid's growth and development within the sport. And, by the way, he "put in" his time of two summers on the local team in any event - so 2 out of 3 summers were spent "local" - sorry you think it should have been 3 out of 3.
By the way, he was on a "regular" team during the season (I think the Cog program by itself at one club at 80 kids and 8 teams) - and so he just wasn't with the "local" regular team - so I guess you are saying that we should have set our sights on mediocrity and not winning anything and had him be on his local team with no prospects of development and a great experience instead of finding a program that was much stronger from start to finish. You should know that there is no such thing as starting from the ground up with something like this - this isn't a 4 or 5 yr process to develop talent (if that is even possible in this situation) - it is a couple of months and so playing on a team of 10 with only one kid who can break 90 or even 100 or in a division with only a few kids who could play decently once the all star team portion begins is not something that changes much in any given period. You also seem to be forgetting that my son is a kid - playing on a team where the average age is under 10 with no good players is not something that keeps the interest of a 13yr old and forcing him to do it would have been wrong in so many ways and a hinderance to his passion for golf. He wants to get involved with the first tee because he wants to help little kids learn but trying to combine that with purposefully avoiding a great team for a poor team also ignores the kid's needs as a kid, as a competitor and as a passionate golfer. Again, a very strange and cynical perspective and it misses the point of the dual nature of this program and misses the point of trying to create something beneficial not only for beginning golfers but also something for accomplished ones as well.
I am baffled that you think that trying to find and put effort into great experiences for a kid is wrong? Your logic would suggest that no kid should play on travel teams in any sport or try to excel and move up teams or try to find ways to play with better players to succeed, win and go after the pinnacle of experiences available in whatever sport at whatever level because then they are "depriving" local or regular league teams of their "talent" and leadership - so if your kid played baseball or basketball, etc and you had the opportunity to have you kid play on a great travel team with kids of his own level, you would dismiss that opportunity and leave them on a team with no other good players that loses every game because by staying on the team, your kid could somehow work from the ground up and turn the team around and help the other kids get a little better - nope, no parent would do it in any sport.
None of the experiences are "consequential" in any real way at young ages but that doesn't mean that striving for them and participating in them is wrong or inappropriate. Should my son stop practicing and playing in individual tournaments as much because he is already good enough and stop trying to strive for improving his game and giving himself better opportunities and instead spend lots of his time at the age of 13 trying to help other kids with golf at his local course? Is that the right perspective to foster his passion and provide him with opportunities to excel and which reward the huge amount of time and effort that he has put into his game?
This summer he probably spent an average of 40-50 hours a week on course playing and practicing and going to the national finals for PGA Jr League was a tremendous experience that rewarded that time and effort - I am thrilled that we were able to put him in a situation that gave him a chance to have this opportunity. He won't be able to participate next summer because the post season will conflict with HS golf but otherwise he would love to continue for another season and we would do it without second thought.
Edited by DGord10, 06 December 2018 - 12:45 PM.