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PGA Jr. League Golf grows at Springbrook with first all-girls team

PGA Junior League Golf began at Springbrook Golf Course with one team in 2013 as part of the national program which is similar to Little League baseball. In 2019 the program has grown to include 4 teams at Springbrook and 3 teams at Naperbrook.

PGA Jr. League teams are open to both boys and girls. Until this year, teams were co-ed but comprised mainly of boys. During registration for the 2019 season one of Springbrook’s coaches, Steve Keeler, decided to offer an all-girls team. A PGA professional and father of two young daughters who golf, Steve thought that the girls who participate in the PGA Junior League would enjoy the camaraderie of being together as a girls team—and he was right. 

Springbrook’s all-girls team, the Hawks, head toward the first tee for their match against the Coyotes on one of the hottest days of the summer, July 13

“PGA Jr. League Golf is a team sport, and the girls like to be together,” said Steve. “They are growing to be more competitive as a team. After they lost by only one point last time, they could see that one point makes a difference. They are a great group of young ladies.”

One of the all-girls team players practices before the July 13 match
Steve commented that female golfers of all ages are helping to grow the game of golf.  “When I started playing golf in 1995, there was a small percentage of women golfers. Now it’s close to 50% of lesson participants who are female.”

Additionally, the PGA Jr. League is growing the game in Naperville and across the country. Illinois is second only to California in the size of its PGA Junior League program. Not only does the program teach young golfers, but it also involves parents and siblings who come to the course for practices and matches. 
Coach Steve’s younger daughter (on right) who is not yet on the team, looks on as the team warms up at the practice area at Springbrook
The idea behind PGA Jr. League Golf is to teach the game in a fun, team-based environment. The PGA Jr. League website explains it this way:  “PGA Jr. League is a game-changing opportunity for boys and girls to learn and play golf. The program brings family and friends together around fun, team golf experiences with expert coaching from PGA and LPGA Professionals.”

The matches are played in a scramble format where the ball is hit from the best position after each stroke. The teams play 9 holes on a shorter course and players rotate to give each player a chance to play 2 out of 3 holes for each set of 3 holes. If they are not playing, they are encouraged to help in some way, by encourage their team mates, repairing divots, etc. 

In addition to skills, the players learn good sportsmanship, which is the most important lesson in Steve’s view. The program teaches good habits such as introducing yourself to your opponent at the beginning of a match. 
 Player introductions at the first tee

“Golf is a healthy contrast to the constant activity that kids experience on their mobile devices,” explained Steve. “Golf requires patience, takes time, and gets kids outdoors. In our program they get 90 minutes of instruction each week as part of the team experience.”

Coach Steve and one of the players at the first tee
The teams played 6 matches in the regular season from May through July. Next, the coaches will choose 10 players from the teams with the best records to form an all-star team that will compete in a sectional match on August 12 at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont. Winners will go on to a regional qualifier as a next step to the nationals. 
Congratulations to this year’s PGA Jr. League golf teams at Springbrook and Naperbrook for completing a great season of golf and good luck to the Naperville All-Star team in the Cog Hill match!

For more information:
 Interested in joining a PGA Jr. League Golf team next year?  Look for information about registration at in late winter/early spring 2020. 

Springbrook and Naperbrook Golf Courses provide many opportunities for kids to learn the game of golf:
•    Family Golf – play as a family for a special reduced rate
•    Golf Lessons and clinics are taught by PGA professionals at both courses. Choose from these options:

o    Private lessons
o    Parent/Junior Clinics for ages 5 and up
o    Junior Clinics and Summer Camps for ages 5-6, 7-10 and 11-15
o    Junior Developmental League for ages 11-15
o    Junior 9-Hole League for ages 10-17
o    Junior Golf 18-Hole Prep League for grades 9-12
o    Playing Lessons with the Pros for ages 16 and up

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