August 25, 2010

National Junior Golf Tournament Offers A Unique Playing Experience for Local Youth Organizations

Since 1999, Hook A Kid On Golf sites from across the United States hit the links at the Traditions of Golf Challenge, a one-of-a-kind competition that stresses the importance of golf’s rules, etiquette and history, along with playing skills. This year’s competition was held at the Cascades Golf Course in Bloomington, Indiana, August 6-8.

Out of the eleven sites that traveled to compete, Illinois was well-represented with five sites: DuPage AME Church (Naperville), Peoria Park District (Peoria), Prospect Heights Park District (Prospect Heights), St. Marks Youth Outreach (Chicago), and South Suburban Home School and Gym Group (Chicago Heights), many of which competed in previous years and brought back past players to lend their support as junior coaches.

The Kids Golf Foundation, a statewide junior golf organization, has dedicated over $150,000 of support towards the Traditions of Golf Challenge since its inception. As in previous years, a Travel Grant was offered by the Foundation to help support the participation of the Illinois sites and cover various hotel, travel, and food expenses.

“We enjoy supporting our local Hook A Kid On Golf and Kids Golf Foundation sites,” said Holly Alcala, Foundation Director. “It is important for our junior golfers to be exposed to competitive formats of play, and the Traditions of Golf Challenge is a special one.”

What makes this event so unique is that each team’s score from their round is combined with their “Traditions of Golf” score to determine the overall ranking in the two-day tournament. Teams consisted of two coaches and eight youngsters, with a foursome playing in a nine-hole scramble on Saturday and Sunday and the other four participants as their caddies. These roles reversed each day, giving each group the chance to experience both sides of play. At each hole, caddies were asked history and rules questions, and etiquette was also observed and scored.

“The Kids Golf Foundation supports wonderful programs and provides a great opportunity for children that do not have the opportunity or the funding to get out there and learn the game of golf,” said parent Gregory Walker Sr., of DuPage AME Church.

The team representing Prospect Heights Park District in Prospect Heights, Illinois, managed to capture this year’s title with a score of 28-under par despite valiant efforts from the other ten teams. The team from West Palm Beach, Florida finished in second place with a score of 22-under par and the team from Bloomington, Indiana was third at 21-under par.

“I love Traditions,” said Joshua Short, participant of South Suburban Home School and Gym Group. “I just wanted to help the kids out, because I know I appreciated the junior coaches when I played in previous years. I wanted to be encouraging and help the kids have fun, because it can be stressful.”

Learning skills such as preparation, teamwork, and motivation, the format of the event also allowed each participant to contribute to the team, building his or her self-confidence.

“Traditions has helped the kids with their study skills by reading and preparing for the questions,” said parent Mary Beth Buck, of Prospect Heights Park District. “All of these kids just really encourage each other even though they are in competition; they remember proper etiquette.”

Although the weekend was full of golf-related competitions, participants still managed to have additional fun. On Saturday night, teams gathered for a pizza party coupled with games of basketball and dodge ball. Coaches, players, and family members all participated, which only brought everybody in attendance closer together.

“It meant a lot for our site to participate in Traditions,” said DuBois Jones, Coach from St. Marks Youth Outreach, whose site took part in the event for the first year. “It was great to see the kids interacting; I saw them interact with participants that they met at other Foundation events, as well as exchanging phone numbers.”

For more information about the events and programs supported by the Kids Golf Foundation, visit our website at www.kidsgolffoundation.org or contact the office at (630) 466-0913.

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