Golf's Driving Force

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A story on the evolution of youth in the game of golf since the emergence of Tiger Woods.

Submitted: October 21, 2015

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Submitted: October 21, 2015

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The Fountain of Youth: Golf’s Driving Force

 

 

By John Schifano

 

 

Submitted to the Journalism Board of Study

School of Humanities

 

 

In partial fulfillment of the requirements

For the Degree of Bachelor of Arts

 

 

Purchase College – State University of New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Reader: Prof. Andrew Salomon

 

Second Reader: Prof. Virginia Breen

 

PROLOGUE: The Youth

Ten-year-old Colby Lewis, barely a centimeter above 5 feet, stepped out of the golf cart and onto the fairway of the par-4 7th hole at Monroe Country Club, in Monroe, N.Y., a small town about an hour north of the city. It was his second time playing golf. His father, Peter Lewis, threw down a ball and told him to swing away. Colby grabbed his U.S. Kids miniature 7-iron out of his bag and dragged it over to the ball, excitedly. With no real patience, he stepped up to it and swung as hard as he could. For beginners, an overly enthusiastic first swing—what golfers call “swinging out of your shoes”—is often met with nothing but air. Not for the younger Lewis. He made crisp contact, striping the ball about 110 yards onto the center of the green. It was at this exact moment the boy knew the game of golf was for him. He had never felt anything better than watching the ball sail through the air for the first time.

Growing up, Lewis was always an athletic kid and always had his nose in a sport. At the time, he was a great baseball player and the starting quarterback for his Pop Warner football team. But it was this moment that stuck out to him; he never came close to this feeling in other sports.

Today, Lewis is 22 years old and participating in his final collegiate season playing with the St. Thomas Aquinas golf team, a college in Sparkill, NY.  He is on a partial scholarship that covers just over half of the tuition to go to the school. The success he has achieved up to this point of his career has been everything he has ever wished for and golf is still the biggest part of his life. “It’s indescribable how the game of golf has impacted my overall quality of life,” he says.

It originated from his youthful experiences and everything he has learned has propelled him forward. As a kid he knew his dreams would be in reach, because he would have the support forever from his family. “All of my opportunities in my life are very rare,” he says, “and I don’t ever forget that.”

Lewis will turn professional soon after his NCAA eligibility is up this summer. This notion translates straight into his attitude towards the game. “Career wise,” he says, “I cannot see myself doing anything else.” In his spare time as a college student, he is a caddy at The Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo, N.Y. After he receives his sports management degree from St. Thomas Aquinas, he sees himself becoming an assistant professional at a golf course and working his way up to become a head teaching professional.

The golf business is very competitive and acquiring a management degree really helps with the business side in the long run. “I want to give back to the youth of the game the same way it was given to me.” Ultimately, he knew this was his destiny, no matter what obstacles he would face in the future.

The amount of different organizations steered towards youth in golf today is substantial. From organizations that propose competitive events, to others strictly aimed towards teaching, it is much easier for youth players to get involved today at a younger age.

Despite substantial growth of youth golf and increased accessibility, learning and playing the sport presents obstacles that are surmountable, but nonetheless significant: chief among them is cost. After all, they don’t call it “the rich man’s game” for nothing.

In 1994, right around the emergence of Tiger Woods, 67 percent of non-golfers thought golf to be too expensive. Today, that rate has lowered to about 45 percent. As of 2014, the average household income for a golfer is $95,000, according to the American Golf Corporation. The overall median household income in 2012 for everyone in the United States was $51,017, according to the US Census Bureau. Setting aside the cost of memberships and greens fees, the price of golf balls alone can scare people. Titleist PRO V1 is known as one of the top-rated balls and cost $62 a dozen retail. You cannot hit a ball without clubs, and those are even more expensive. They can run you hundreds of dollars for an iron set, and then into the thousands for woods, to make it complete. Of course, these clubs are good quality, but you don’t want the heads of your woods flying off from purchasing a cheap set. All of these aspects come into play when a kid decides that golf is a sport they want to take on, so it is no walk in the park for parents’ pockets.

Then there are the lessons, which are a virtual necessity for youth development. Sure, some kids may teach themselves through practice and not require a mentor, but when it comes down to it, the more motivation you have from an experienced professional, the stronger your game will become. When you see a young person driving the ball 250 yards or more, straight down the fairway, more often than not they had a professional shadowing them.

There are more than 27,000 certified PGA teaching professionals in the United States, according to the PGA of America, and they are highly educated with years of intensive training. These professionals use advanced teaching methods that cater to the specific individual and build relationships with them from the beginning, in order for them to gain the full experience.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1: The One

Something looms in the air of golf. No matter where they may be playing, youth golfers know that it is there. It is a sense most of them have all felt before. It is etched into the back of the mind and it all stems from the global “Tiger Effect.”

Tiger Woods burst onto the golf scene way before his days ravaging the ranks of the PGA Tour. He was born on Dec. 30, 1975, in Cypress, Calif., the only child of Earl and Kultida Woods. (Earl Woods, an African-American Army officer from Kansas, had three other children with his first wife.) Kultida Woods is from Thailand, and met Tiger’s father while he was stationed there.

Woods was set up to be a golf prodigy before he could even walk, but no one could predict his impact on the game. Accounts from his parents tell us that he was playing around with his father’s putter before he even took his first step. He gained national attention when he was featured on “The Michael Douglas Show,” in 1978 and went on to beat comedian Bob Hope in a putting contest. Woods was not quite 3 years old.

By 1991, before he would turn 16, he had won six Junior World Golf Championships and went on to claim the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship three consecutive years in a row, from 1991 to 1993. And this was not the end of the list. The young prodigy would dominate the U.S. Amateur Championship three consecutive years from 1994 to 1996, playing against men, in some cases, twice his age.

After going to Stanford University for two years, he turned professional in 1996, and then Woods dominated the Masters the following year—winning by a record-breaking 12 shots. At 21, he would be the youngest player to ever win the tournament. (Jordan Spieth, who won the Masters in April and equaled Woods’ record score of 270, 18 strokes under par, is also 21 years old, but a few months older than Woods was at the time of his victory.)

Though much was made of Woods’ multiracial identity when he first won the Masters, his influence might be felt more among players defined by youth, rather than race.

Woods completely changed golf, as he brought youth, style and superior athleticism that the game had never seen before. Kids saw a golfer as their idol for the first time in their lives. Not a football, baseball, or basketball player. For this generation of kids, Woods was seen as a hero and was atop the list with some of the best athletes in the world.

There is a lot of credence to the “Tiger Effect.” ’For example, between 1895-1995 (the year before Woods turned professional), there were close to 14,000 golf courses built in America, or an average of 140 a year. From 1996 through 2008, the last year in which Woods won a major tournament, the United States added almost 4,000 golf courses, or about 307 courses a year, according to golf-newz.com

 So, in Woods’ first 13 years on the PGA Tour, the United States increased the number of its golf courses by nearly 30 percent.

Roughly during this same time period, the number of newcomers taking up the game grew substantially. According to the organization First Tee, which is based on expanding the game to its junior golfers, they have added 10.5 million participants since 1997, or the year in which Woods won his first major, the Masters. ’According to BuildingGreatGolf.com, the number of golfers between the ages of 12 and 17 grew nearly 20 percent, to slightly more than 2 million nationwide, since 1994. In that same year, the number of junior golfers played about 20.9 million rounds of golf; in 2014, junior golfers played 33.8 million rounds, a growth rate of 62 percent in 20 years.

“There are more golfers that are under the age of forty,” states the website, “and most of them are in the 18 to 39 age group.”

While the emergence of Tiger Woods during this time frame could be more correlation than causation, it’s difficult to imagine the upsurge in popularity among the youngest golfers without his dominance on a global scale.

CHAPTER 2: The Beginners

A great example of an organization dedicated to expanding the game of golf from a youth standpoint, is the Hudson Valley Junior Golf League. Not only does the league bleed competitive spirit, the experience translates over to real-life situations that try to impart integrity and honesty. Meg Monnell, former president, had the league up and running in 1974. A few small changes have been made, but the ultimate goal of Hudson Valley has not: to provide a fun and competitive learning experience for junior golfers.

Colby Lewis was a key beneficiary of this tour. After sixth grade, he heard about the Hudson Valley Junior Tour and was excited to take his talents to the region and play competitively for the first time. The best part: he got to play with all of his friends. Lewis was well on his way to learning the game he knows so well today.

Playing in the Hudson Valley Junior Tour would become a crucial learning experience. “The tournaments and atmosphere taught me to be patient and showed me the integrity required to play the game,” he explains. “It really taught me how to play against others and was great experience to be competing and learning to play under pressure. The First Tee foundation teaches similar things these days, this was my form of that when I was coming up.” 

He played in the events for summers on end and continued to gain momentum.  During his second season with Hudson Valley, in 2005, a warm summer morning approached and 12-year-old Lewis was set to play the tour’s event at Orange County Country Club in Middletown, N.Y. This course was not only private, but also exclusive. He was itching to play there, because he heard that it was pristine. Lewis stepped up to the first tee, with a confidence he had never felt before, thinking of his father and that shot he had hit with his U.S. Kids 7-iron. The clubs were different—he had his first set of big-boy clubs, Taylor Made R5’s—but the result was similar: He pounded the ball with his driver right down the middle fairway. The momentum would continue for the remainder of the round, and he shot his lowest score to date, 81. This score earned him second place in the event for the 12-14 Division.

For the rest of the events that summer, Lewis would go on to compete at a similar level, and he finished second in his division. “When you are 12 years old, you love to win prizes, no matter what they may be,” says Lewis. “The awards banquet at the end of the season would get you prizes for most points in a number of different categories and it drove me to really want to practice better to be the best I can get.” Not only did Lewis receive high accolades in his age division, but his home-courses team would win the team title.
 

 

CHAPTER 3: Reducing Costs, Expanding Access

The league is a hot target for kids who enjoy playing golf, because it is linked with some of the best courses in the Hudson Valley region, such as The Golf Club at Mansion Ridge (designed by Jack Nicklaus) and the historic Powelton Club (founded during the beginnings of golf in America, 1882).  The players experience breathtaking views on all different terrains and this is one of the key contributors to attachment when playing golf. Normally, the opportunity to play at such clubs would be limited to junior players whose parents had the money to join these clubs.

But since 2005, when Lewis was 12, tournaments have become significantly cheaper to enter, and players do not need to be a member at a participating club in the region. There are two separate divisions, the 12 and under division and the 13-18 division.

With a flat rate of $200, kids can enter to play in all nine tournaments that run from late June through the end of August, with no extra charge. This also gives the players something to look forward to every summer during their years of youth golf. Most of the greens fees at the courses the kids play are averaged around $70 for one round.  For example, one of the yearly events is located at Beekman Golf Club in Hopewell Junction, NY.  For the public to walk 18 holes at the club before 11 a.m. it would cost $65.

Scott Dickson, one of four board members of Hudson Valley, understands what some people go through economically. “Golf is expensive,” he says. “We are looking to get the average kid to try.” Dickson understands that some parents struggle financially and do not have crazy money to throw around.

Another enticing factor for the kids: They do not need any experience to play. At each of the nine events, the local pros from each venue are available to work with players for no extra charge.

In the past, players would need to be a member at a golf club in the Hudson Valley in order to register for the league, but now that is a distant memory. This policy changed in 2013, when Meg Monnell handed over the reigns to the new board. It was an idea that seemed to make the league more accessible to everybody. Anybody that has the will to play is going to walk up and down the fairways of each club and nobody is going to look at them differently based on their experience.

 The junior players compete at some clubs that are private; without the league, some might not have had the chance to play. The accessibility of the game has always been a major factor that has come into question. Thirteen percent of non-golfers thought that golf was discriminatory in 1994, and 22 percent think the same today, according to PGA.com and its partner, Golf 2.0 researches. The chance to play on private clubs is very low, so the tour provides benefits for their kids in a special way.

“A huge thing about golf is that sometimes there is a lot of pressure in your mind and some kids are not ready for that,” Dickson says. “Our goal is to leave that feeling in the rear view and put these kids in playing groups with ability similar to their own.”

Not only does pairing kids from different parts of the Hudson Valley help gain friends socially, it helps gain friends to golf with for years to come, therefore, expanding the game to generations.

The HVJG had more than 70 kids signed up and competing in the summer of 2014, a jump from just around 50 the year before. In 1997, the league had barely 25.

CHAPTER 4: The Coach

PGA professionals are a key contributor to the increase of youth in, especially when it comes to improving the performance of junior players. Andrew Farrell, 36, of Greenwich, is a teaching professional based at Doral Arrowwood, in Purchase. He started to play when he was 12, while growing up in Yorktown Heights. After consistently playing through the Westchester and Greater New York City area throughout his teens, Farrell developed an extreme love for the game and decided to become a teaching pro.

He was passionate to teach kids how to play from the get-go and always wanted to be a part of their growth in the sport. He has done so for the past 15 years, since turning pro at 21. He is a former coach of the Purchase College golf team and is currently the director of junior golf for the Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy at the club, adjacent the Purchase College campus. He gives individual lessons by the hour, and he runs junior golf camps in the summer that can last up to four weeks or longer.

Farrell is a strong believer in teaching kids how to apply the game’s lessons to other areas of their lives. “How you handle yourself with golf is likely to be how you handle your life,” he says. “Golf is about honesty, hard work, and focus. I try to teach all my kids this, the best I can, and especially to help control their emotions out there.”

Some parents send children as young as 3 to the academy. With an instructor such as Farrell, kids can expect to go home with a better knowledge in all aspects.

Nevertheless, seeing improvement in a student’s game is one of Farrell’s happiest moments. He says that the people that he teaches are extremely important to him, and he has learned that he builds relationships that last. “Sometimes I see a kid on the driving range hitting the ball unbelievably well,” Farrell says. “Then I can think to myself, wait, I taught that kid 10 years ago. I love seeing them improve, it brings great satisfaction.” 

Farrell teaches his kids everything, from the mechanics of putting and chipping to different techniques for improving the mental side of the game. When his clinics are in session, sometimes he is at the course from early morning until the sun goes down.

Farrell also believes that the competition has gotten better since he has started, especially locally and regionally. “I believe the game has changed a lot,” he says. “Tiger Woods revolutionized the game, but the essence of the game is the same. Integrity has always been the critical staple.”

Woods is a prime example of one of Farrell’s main theories about youth, in that he believes the earlier one starts, the better off they will be. As we know, Woods first swung a golf club as soon as he could walk. Farrell also believes motivation is the biggest factor in improvement. “It is the desire and dedication that far outweighs everything,” he says. “I am here to help these kids get to the level they want to.” 

Farrell says that with better athletes on the course these days, there is no telling how good players in the future will be—again, the Tiger Effect. In fact, Farrell says the biggest advancement in golf since he has started playing is the dedication to fitness. He also is an influence on a healthy lifestyle for his kids and looks to show them better ways to eat by giving them advice on which foods to ingest. More than 50 years ago, a young and portly Jack Nicklaus upset the fit and trim Arnold Palmer at Oakmont to win the U.S. Open, the first of a record 18 major tournaments Nicklaus would win. If you keep a keen eye on PGA Tour, it is impossible to miss the fact that many of the more successful players are in great shape.  

The generation that has been pushed to the front by Woods is exactly who you see on tour now and the evidence is right in front of you.

Technology is another huge factor. While people are taking lessons, there are many video programs that allow teachers to record the swing and help students become more involved in their progress.

“I can use video analysis to help give my students a better picture of how their swings look,” Farrell says. “I can do this right off my iPad and edit accordingly.”

A lot of different factors are used to home in on what the player is doing wrong. Youth golfers that were getting lessons in the past did not have the advantages of these applications. When Farrell was growing up and learning, video was not used as much.

Farrell does not have specific plans for his future as to where he will be teaching. Doral has been extremely good to him and is in a great location where youth golf has expanded over the past couple of years. He sees himself doing a lot more competing than he has in the past and this can translate right over to the kids that he teaches. As he says, “One great thing about the game is that, no matter who you are, there is always room for improvement.”

CHAPTER 5: The Intermediates

High school was right around the corner and Colby Lewis was anxious—not only about improving his golf game, but about making the transition from middle school to high school. Although the town’s high school, situated in Central Valley, N.Y., was right next-door, this was a whole new ball game. Freshman year proved to be an academic challenge. He was falling behind in his classes and not really striving to do his work. By spring, he was failing multiple courses and tryouts for the school’s varsity golf team were approaching.

Even though Lewis was not doing too well with the books, his golf game was still improving, and he was more than ready to head to tryouts. He wanted to show the team’s head coach, Patrick Bulla and the older guys that he was no pushover. He was coming for their spot.

Tryouts were held in town, at the local driving range called Cassidy’s. If you drove the ball far and straight enough, you got to move on to play the team’s home course. Lewis rode the bus over to the range after a long school day with only one thing on his mind: “Make that team and the rest will come.” And, boy, did he show everyone what was good. Striping ball after ball, the 5-foot Lewis, now 14, was a sensation. He stunned the older varsity vets who had been on the team for years. He easily impressed Coach Bulla and when he made it to the second stage at the course, he fired consecutive nine-hole rounds in the low 40s. He made the team. But it was not enough until the final match of the season, because Lewis was academically ineligible until then.  When he finally got his shot, boom, he fired a 41.  Lewis was never ineligible for the rest of his time in high school.

He and his father began to notice that he could play a higher level of competition. The International Junior Golf Tour was a perfect fit. According to its website, the IJGT is “the only junior golf tour to host events every weekend throughout the academic year, with over 60 tournaments annually. Players from all 50 states and from over 40 countries around the world regularly compete in events at venues such as TPC Sawgrass, Pinehurst, Innisbrook, La Costa, Kiawah Island, and Harbour Town Golf Links”—many of them regular stops on the PGA Tour. This would turn out as a huge part of Lewis developing his playing repertoire.

The IJGT proved to be tough competition for Lewis, but after multiple tries and a couple years’ of high school competition, it was finally beginning to feel like his time. From ages 14-17, his first three seasons at high school, he qualified for the sectional tournament consecutively and during his junior year, qualified for the state tournament up in Ithaca, N.Y. All of the experience of competing at the higher level was beginning to infuse Lewis with motivation.

At 17, he would travel upstate to compete in May of 2010. A cluster of the nation’s best junior golfers made their way to the small city of Apalachin, N.Y. to take part in a 36-hole event at the Links at Hiawatha Landing. Hiawatha offered plenty of challenges that threaten the competitors at every hole. Brutal weather, precipitation, and even some flurries could not dull the spirits of the competitors that week, many of which posted very low scores. In the Boys 16-19 Division, Lewis displayed incredible shot-making and mental toughness throughout both rounds of tournament to bring in top honors. He posted substantial scores of 80 and 85 in terrible conditions to finish with a tournament total of 165 for both days. Although the weekend was full of great play from golfers of lands far away, the day belonged to Lewis. “My goal to begin the final day was to stay even with the leader,” he says. “I was one down on the 18th tee, but was able sink a five foot birdie putt for my first IJGT win.”

Like Lewis’ involvement with higher competition, today it has become more common to see developmental tours popping up all over the place. The Metropolitan PGA Junior Golf Association was founded in 1975 and has always had a clear goal to introduce juniors to tournaments and clinics. This helps pave the way to improve their lives in many different aspects, through sports and recreation. These tournaments are the big stage and highly competitive. The membership fee for the tour is $90 without paying for the events. This give kids the opportunity to compete for a championship and access to the Long Island Tour, Westchester Tour, and the 9-Hole Tour. With a wide range of events, players can pick and choose their terrains, tournament style, and comfort zone.

The growth of the program has surged throughout the region, and it consists of more than 1,375 junior golfers and a schedule of over 120 junior tournaments per season. The association is open to all boys and girls ages 7-18, who reside in the designated areas or are members of a golf course within the boundaries of the Metropolitan Section that employs a PGA Professional. The Metropolitan Section stretches from Sullivan County to the tip of Long Island, encompasses Fairfield County in Connecticut, and stretches into southern Ulster and Dutchess counties.

Members are eligible to play in events up until their 19th birthday, as long as they have not started college.

Daniel Frankel is the tournament administrator for the association and says that attraction to the game at an early age is what helps it continue to grow. “With the tremendous time commitment and the challenge of the sport itself,” he says, “it becomes increasingly challenging for people to have the desire to take the game up later in life.”

These youth golfers do not have to necessarily revolve their lives around the game. Even if the sport is used only recreationally in the future, it can create connections in other parts of their lives. “Golf,” Frankel says, “can be a useful medium for business transactions.”

Still, the MET PGA has seen its alumni succeed in the game itself. Players from its association go onto having successful college, amateur, and even some professional careers. This all stems from the rise of youth in golf, Frankel says.

“What we have seen over the past 10 years is a tremendous growth in our program,” he added. “Our numbers in both membership and tournaments has nearly doubled in that time period. When a tour is geared towards a higher level of competition the numbers keep growing.”

Like Scott Dickson of Hudson Valley, Frankel is a key contributor to pushing core values into the minds of these kids. “Golf as a competition is secondary to the purpose of our association,” he says. “It is the life skills, etiquette, and lessons that are taught while competing that is at the forefront of our mission and to be able to impact the lives of the thousands of young golfers who come through this program is the driving force of everything we stand for.”

Along with the lessons that are taught, come the prestigious events that these kids can all work towards and the advantages of starting out young can help them use years trying to take home the title. One of these majors is the Junior PGA Championship. It is a 36-hole championship for 12-18 year old boys and girls. The overall champion for the boys and girls qualifies for the PGA of America’s National Junior Championship. This tournament is one of the biggest events in the nation that a junior golfer can compete in. Past winners of the event who have gone on to successful professional careers include: Billy Andrade, Stewart Cink, Chris Couch, Trevor Immelman, Cristie Kerr, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, D.A. Points, Pat Perez, Sean O’Hair, Grace Park, In-Bee Park, Lexi Thompson, Jordan Spieth and of course, Tiger Woods.

CHAPTER 6: The Parents

Parental duties to kids who play golf are so crucial in their overall wellness and understanding of life that they sometimes go under the radar. Not with this mother, though. Amy Spencer, 45, is the epitome of a junior golf parent who has helped advance the game—for her only son, Kyle, and this next generation of young players. Spencer, who lives in Charleston, runs the website JuniorGolfParents.com, while traveling the nation with her son, 30 weeks out of the year, from tournament to tournament. She writes blogs for the website, follows her son to his events, and can be claimed to be a public service worker because of the free time she spends to help advance the game with parents. Volunteering has been brought to a whole other level, and Spencer gets a kick out of it, every single day.

“I have a full-time career in marketing but wanted to give something back in the golf arena.  I see this (website) as my way of giving back to the junior golf community.  My way of giving volunteer time to something I’m passionate about and can hopefully help another parent along this journey,” Spencer says.

Many junior golfers inherit the game from their father or other male figures, but Kyle didn’t. Amy Spencer up in Indiana and has been playing golf since she was 5. Her mother, Mary Ann Snyder, now 75, was a professional golfer and the state amateur champion in Indiana when she was 14. She was also a high school men’s golf coach. She was the key contributor and influencer of golf in Amy’s life.

Spencer was not just an average girl playing golf; she was so good that she played on her men’s high school golf team. Her father was also a professional. With golf being such a big a part of her family, it translated over into daily activities. “My parents did everything with me, as a family. That’s why I am this way with my son,” she says.

Golf is a game of numerous challenges and Amy and Kyle Spencer have experienced many of them. Kyle has been playing competitively since he was 6 and has had a coach since 4. Now 16, he has participated in many popular events on all different tours across the nation, such as the Callaway Junior Tour, Future Masters, American Junior Golf Association and International Golf Tour. But none of these opportunities would have been possible without his mom supporting him financially. “Golf is very expensive,” she says, “and if Kyle wasn’t an only child, there is no way I would be able to do this for him.”

Currently a sophomore in high school, Kyle also plays on the varsity team and has been a member since he was in seventh grade. He was named the most valuable player of the team in both eighth and ninth grades.

In his freshman year he won the regional state championship. As Colby Lewis did, Kyle exceled at other sports. He played soccer for a few years and was a stand out in football. He stopped playing both when he was seventh grade.

Traveling all these miles, parents and players sacrifice many things. “Very few people understand why Kyle has to be at golf course six days a week and 30 weeks traveling a year,” Spencer says. “His friends have had many sleepovers and he wasn’t there. After a while they stopped asking. Golf was a very isolating sport from friends at home, but his second family would be the kids he meets traveling.”

Kyle grew up very outgoing and was friendly with kids in his neighborhood in Charleston, S.C. Being away from his longest friends has been very difficult at times and it can lead to minor depression.

With the amount of practice and time that needs to be set aside for a kid like Kyle to get better at golf, being away from the game can cause a halt in the process. Kyle broke his wrist twice when playing pickup football games in the neighborhood back at home and it caused him to have to sit out three months at a time.

Another issue that the Spencer family has faced has been money, and although they have been able to afford it, it’s not easy. “I put thousands of dollars away each year,” Spencer says, “to be able to cover the costs of traveling and other expenses.”

She understands the importance of a professional figure in the life of a junior golfer, the same way she was blessed by her parents; so, she went out and found the best coach for Kyle she could.

“He would look at his coach Scott Rosenthal as a second dad,” Spencer says. “When he is not home or at school, he is at the local golf course with his coach. He is without a doubt, one of the closest relationships to him outside of his family.”

The presence of golf has taught Kyle other things than just the sport. She found that at an early age Kyle could hold one-on-one conversations with adults, due to being in golf course and country club environments. She also began to notice his patience off the course and this would help him learning everyday activities growing up. “Over the years of witnessing many junior golfers,” Spencer says, “I have realized they are more patient people and they tend to see the big picture versus individual things.”

She reinforced that lesson in Kyle when he was 8. One morning when they were out enjoying a summer round in Charleston, he hit a poor shot, then threw his club. Amy did not let him complete his round and told him that he would no longer play when he acted up on the course.

Spencer’s website consists of advice for junior golf parents on how to make their players’ schedules to best suit them and also contains sections of info graphics to help parents understand their impact on the game.

Though she works otherwise, her obsession with junior golf is very important to her. “I work full-time in marketing for a tech company who focuses on helping nonprofit organizations, and I honestly love my day job,” she says. “I am, however, following my dream of being part of golf in a way I can contribute – from a parent’s point of view.”

Amy Spencer getting a generation involved through her contributions is part of the reason junior golf is very much alive in today’s society.  And it is topped with this passionate quote straight from her website, “you can find me almost every weekend on the cart path watching every shot.  And, of course like most parents, holding my breath.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source List

Colby Lewis

Clewis13@stac.edu

917-617-7854

 

Andrew Farrell
Director of Junior Golf
Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy
914-494-7572

 

Daniel C. Frankel

Tournament Administrator

Metropolitan PGA
49 Knollwood Rd, Suite 200
Elmsford, NY 10523
914-347-2325 ext. 328

 

Scott Dickson

Hudson Valley Junior Tour

845-558-7966

 

Amy Spencer

amy@juniorgolfparents.com

843-830-6503

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

"Metropolitan - Home." Metropolitan - Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015. .

 

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