Well Summer is here and the child golf opportunities abound. In South Florida we have at least four kids golf tours available: US Kids Golf West Palm and Miami, Goldcoast Junior Golf Foundation, and our favorite, the Junior Golf Association of Broward County. Don’t get me wrong, we love the child golf tours for all they do and all they are; some great players and the tour directors are the best. However there is one difference about the JGA tour … NO CADDIES ALLOWED!
That’s right … no caddies. That means I am reduced to a spectator. Our child golfer is on his own. This is our fourth year in the JGA. This tour is a labor of love by its board, who are dedicated to a tradition the JGA brings to junior golfers in South Florida. My hat goes off to them and their dedication.
The way this child golf tour is set up pins players of comparable skill level together, as opposed to using age to define the flights. That means our ten year old golfer is playing against some boys who are fifteen years old. There are stroke play tournaments on Mondays for seven weeks at different golf courses throughout Broward County.
All the new tour members start at an entry flight based on their skill level. The “F” flight for boys is just three holes, so it’s a fantastic way for beginners to get their feet wet. The winner and all second place ties (T2) advance to the next flight. As long as you are top two, you advance.
The best part about the JGA is the no-caddy policy, for any age. What a great compliment to the golfing experience for your child golfer. Your young golfer definitely needs you as her caddy, don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of learning to do and your help is essential.
However, if you can find a tournament where they are on their own, it’s a great experience for them. It’s sort of like the difference between following someone somewhere or getting directions and driving yourself. They’ll need to manage the course, club selection, distances, and themselves. They really have to connect with their game. Very cool to watch. In the JGA, there are volunteer markers to keep score for the lower flights. However, in the boys C flight, they start keeping their own score.
It’s important that you help them be independent in your other tournaments with a caddy in order to prepare for the no-caddy events. You don’t want to throw them in cold. In fact as the years progress I have weened my son off of my help even in the caddy events. He is ten now and quite a capable golfer on his own. His biggest challenge is slowing down! … not uncommon at this age.
I hope you can find a no-caddy tournament at least once over the summer. Note: in the JGA each player must have a volunteer sign up to help in two events in order to play in the three-day championship at the end of the tour. Volunteering is very rewarding. You may work the scoring table, or drive a water cart for a couple of hours, or shuttle player to the first tee and from the last green back in. Lots of fun, mostly great people.
The JGA has an extra element of the sport, it awards scholarships to the “graduating” members in a nice awards presentation at the end of the championship.
Ask around at other child golf events in your area for events or tours like the JGA and I hope your child golfer has a chance to show you their skills, and you get to take of your Daddy Caddy hat!