A training program started last year with the goal of providing competitive training for kids ages 12 to 18.
Australia has one. So do Sweden, South Africa and other countries that are producing champion golfers. So why doesn’t the United States have a national program to develop the next Annika Sorenstam or Jason Day? Well, it does.
The USA Junior National Golf Team Training program started last year with the goal of providing competitive training for kids ages 12 to 18. “The need is there and it’s not being met by any means other than private instruction,” says Steve Patterson, a longtime PGA instructor. Last season at Evergreen’s Hiwan Golf Club, Patterson ran one of the program’s first three sites. This season the program has 16 locations, with Hiwan the only one in the Rocky Mountain region.
Founded by Tom Relf, a San Antonio-based PGA instructor who has sent more than 100 students to college golf programs, the USA Junior National Training program focuses on long-term player development. Players move through five “teams” or “levels”—Developmental I and II, Future Stars (10.0-16.0 handicap index), Pre-Elite (4.0-10.0) and Elite. Each team comprises 12 to 16 players.
Patterson offers programs at the three most advanced levels and requires a six-month commitment at $299 per month. Each month consists of four three-hour sessions, plus additional instructional support and competitive opportunities with other Team USA programs. A select few Elite players also receive an invitation to compete in matches against other international junior golf teams.
One of Patterson’s players, Kyle Peterson (pictured right below), got that invitation. This month in St. Andrews, Scotland, the soon-to-be Colorado Mesa University freshman will be one of eight players representing the USA Junior National Golf Team against the Scottish Golf Union.