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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Perspective - The Junior Golf Landscape

Perspective

The Junior Golf Landscape

Column by Eric Dutt, President of the Nevada Golf Course Owners Association and Vice President of Caesars Entertainment, Rio Secco, Cascata and Butch Harmon School of Golf

Nevada Golfers,

Once again my thanks to Las Vegas Golf & Leisure Magazine and Ryan and Heidi Chackel for allowing the Nevada Golf Course Owners Association (NVGCOA) this space to comment on the Nevada golf industry and golf in general.

As I mentioned in my last article, there has been some restructuring with regards to the Junior Golf landscape in Southern Nevada. A new association, the Las Vegas Junior Golf Association (lvjga.org), overseen by the Southern Nevada Golf Association (SNGA.org), has been formed and currently has a tournament schedule with events being played. The mission statement for the LVJGA is: To offer Southern Nevada Junior Golfers, ages 12 to 18, an opportunity to play and compete with the best junior golfers in the Las Vegas valley; to improve not only as players but grow as individuals who will achieve the qualities of integrity, sportsmanship and a passion for the game.

The LVJGA is made up of a competitive junior golf tour and a development league to enhance and advance the Junior Golf initiative in Las Vegas. The goal is to push junior golf to the forefront of what is possible for children of all ages in the golf world of Southern Nevada. The membership fee is $50 with tournament entry fees ranging from $40 to $100. The goal is to create an affordable junior golf tour that is competitive for the best junior talent in Southern Nevada. A Board of Directors that includes PGA Tour star Ryan Moore and nine-time SNGA Player of the Year Brady Exber oversees the LVJGA.

The LVJGA has two types of events. The Junior Series events are for golfers aged 8 to 11 and are being held weekly at both Desert Willow and Durango Hills. The LVJGA Tour events have four divisions: boys 12 to 14, girls 12 to 14, boys 15 to 17 and girls 15 to 17.

The Players of the Year Points Race for the LVJGA is conducted from January to December each year for each of the four age divisions. The top four from each division get invited to the Tour Championship at Cascata on December 19 and 20. At this event, Player of the Year awards will likely be decided.

The LVJGA will also determine teams and or hold ALL of the following national qualifiers: IMG Academy Junior World Championship, Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship, AAU Olympic Junior Games, Boys America Cup, Girls America Cup, Hogan Cup, Mary Cave Cup. For more information on the Las Vegas Junior Golf Association contact Tanner Bown at 702-830-7972 or at tbown@snga.org.

Another junior golf related initiative that is being developed is what is currently being called the Las Vegas College Golf Prep Tour. The brainchild of a few individuals both within and outside the golf business, the LVCGPT is being designed to identify the best and brightest golf talent in Las Vegas and then provide practice and competitive opportunities for these junior golfers with the goal that they are offered college golf scholarships.

It’s been my experience that many parents don’t know how to develop the game plan for getting their junior golfers exposed to college coaches or are under the misconception that unless their child shoots par or better or plays AJGA junior tournaments then they have no chance of earning some type of college scholarship. This new program will help parents understand what it does take commitment wise (from both parents and juniors) to make a junior player attractive to a college coach, whether it’s a Division I, II or III institution. The program will also allow juniors to interact and play golf with some of the more accomplished golfers to come out of the Las Vegas valley. More information will be forthcoming on this program and what the criteria (ability, grades, etc.) will be for juniors to be selected to this very special program.

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