Junior Golf

2012 Junior Development Awards

Celebrating it's 28th year, our 2012 Junior Development Award winning programs go beyond swing fundamentals

Golf Digest 2012 Junior Development Awards

Children prepare to tee off at the Humana Healthy Habitats Leadership Camp.

For the past 28 years, Golf Digest has recognized municipalities, corporations, individuals, associations and clubs devoted to junior golf.

This year's focus was on programs that emphasize fitness and nutrition. Visit an enlightened junior program and you'll see kids doing aerobic exercises and snacking on apple slices.

Annika Sorenstam and kids



Annika Sorenstam exemplified the value of personal fitness during her successful LPGA career. It is not surprising that in retirement she has continued to champion a healthy lifestyle. Working with the Florida Hospital for Children, she helped formulate The First Tee's Nine Healthy Habits. These habits deal with more than food and fitness, taking into consideration the mental and social wellbeing of kids. There's even advice about bullying and using social media. She's teamed with SPARK, a program that brings fitness to schools and acts as national spokesperson for these causes. Several junior players at The Annika Academy are following her lead, making healthy choices a part of their golf regimen.

The First Tee of Greater Chicago



In a city as large and diverse as Chicago there are multiple junior golf programs. World Sport Chicago, The First Tee of Greater Chicago, and the Chicago public schools teamed together to bring The First Tee National School program to 60,000 elementary students. It is hoped that 10 percent will get hooked and become active in The First Tee. Cole Hyland, program director for The First Tee of Greater Chicago, uses the Nine Healthy Habits as a teaching tool. He instructs the kids on the foods they need to eat to stay energetic throughout the day. Fifty Illinois PGA facilities, both public and private, will be offering the PGA Sports Academy curriculum this summer and that number should double as section professionals see how much the kids enjoy and profit from it.

Muirfield Village Golf Club




Junior clinics at Muirfield Village were conventional, nothing earthshattering, until last summer when the program was overhauled. Director of Golf, Larry Dornisch wanted "to create athletes, not just golfers." To do this he brought in Lindsay Becker, director of Sports Performance Instruction at Ohio State. Becker, a physical therapist by training, developed two different programs, for kids 4-12 and another for teens 13-18. Everyone was tested for flexibility and strength and the older kids for balance and power. Kids met twice a week for 11 weeks during the summer and each session included warming up with jumping jacks, arm swings and side shuffles, followed by strengthening exercises and golf instruction. Children who weren't Muirfield members were welcome to attend as long as they had a friend in the program. The new format was a great success and Becker plans to introduce nutrition this summer. The signature Muirfield milkshake could be in danger of being replaced by a fruit smoothie.

Humana Healthy Habits Leadership Camp



Since Humana is a health insurance company, their business is all about fitness and nutrition, and they've chosen to promote golf as a way to keep healthy. At this year's Humana Challenge, 12,000 pedometers were given to attendees who walked 84,000,000 steps. Health screenings were available free of charge in their mobile wellness center and will continue to be so at several tour stops. Michael B. McCallister, Humana chairman and CEO, is a national trustee of The First Tee, the highest donor designation. Company employees serve as volunteers and board members of First Tee chapters in Chicago, Kansas City, Atlanta and Louisville. A grant from Humana provided funds for The First Tee of Greater Chicago's Healthy Habits Leadership Camp this past summer.

PGA of America logo



The PGA of America is recognized for its groundbreaking PGA Sports Academy. The academy is not a specific place, but a detailed curriculum for PGA professionals to use in teaching juniors. It incorporates instruction materials for every aspect of the game: putting, chipping, stance, grip, bunkers and full swing. Physical exercise, proper eating and hydration are integral to the program and reflect the PGA's commitment to nutrition and fitness. The PGA anticipates the half-million kids getting PGA instruction now will grow to 4.2 million within the next few years.

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