August 8, 2012

Hook A Kid On Golf Brings Spirit of Olympics to Illinois

For over a decade, Hook A Kid On Golf has brought together young golfers from all over the continent through an event called Traditions of Golf Challenge. This three-day experience available to youth golf programs brings teams of 11-15 year olds together for a fun, friendly, and competitive weekend.

Hook A Kid On Golf began this unique tournament in 1999 in order to encourage not only golf ability in the nation’s youth but more importantly, an understanding of golf’s rules, etiquette, and history. To implement this mission, the competition equally scores on 3 distinct areas: playing ability, knowledge of golf’s rules and history, and overall etiquette. Each program needs a well-rounded team for a combination of comprehension, golf skill, and integrity in order to become the Traditions of Golf Challenge Champion.

This year, in the spirit of the Olympic Games, teams from across the USA migrated to Mount Prospect, IL to represent their program site. Home team, Prospect Heights Park District had a nail bitingly close race with West Palm Beach for the golf scoring. What saved the winning team was their understanding of golf’s traditions. Scoring a low 13 under par on these questions, Prospect Heights was able to bring the gold to Illinois for the 5th time in event history! Coming in a close second was West Palm Beach, FL, followed by another Kids Golf Foundation site, Peoria Park District.

The Kids Golf Foundation enjoys contributing to this event in order to offer Illinois sites the chance to interact with programs from different areas. Since the inception, the Foundation has provided over $160,000 in support of this experience. The most involved means of support provided by the Foundation is the Traditions of Golf Challenge Travel Grant. Illinois sites wishing to participate in the event are able to apply for a grant to cover registration, golf course fees, travel, lodging, and meal costs.

Many participating sites return year after year to take advantage of this opportunity for their junior golfers. Coach of the South Suburban Home School & Gym Group team and past event participant, Megan Ewers, says, “Traditions has made our program stronger and it has given our kids a goal to strive for. It is not only about improving their golf game, but about studying the rules and history. This event sets the bar and gives the kids something to shoot for.”

Although it is a challenging and exciting tournament, the event is not simply competition. Bob Buck, parent of two Prospect Heights Park District participants, comments, “The best thing about Traditions is that it brings everyone together. The event generates teamwork. Golf is minimal to the skills that they learn here.” Participants gain experiences unlike any they would get in an average tournament, “My favorite thing about this weekend was being able to see the friends that I made from Traditions in 2010!” participant Seth Heidkamp of Prospect Heights Park District comments, “I learned that not everyone is strictly here for the competition. The teams also just want to make friends and have a good time.”

The 2012 event was educational on and off the course for all participants, coaches, parents, and staff. The Foundation is looking forward to next year and hopes that the tournament continues to grow. To view photos from the 2012 event, please click here.

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