TGA Premier Sports Makes Golf Accessible for Kids

You might find Kevin Oliver’s after-school TGA Premier Golf of Long Beach (CA) class decidedly louder than other golf programs you may have seen. However, compared to the unfettered chaos of kids at play in the adjacent open field — a never-ending game of tag (that, at times, resembles rugby), a toddler toppling unexpectedly over the top of a soccer ball the size of her entire torso and rowdy footballers trying to make their spirals sing through the wind in the key of Philip Rivers or Jared Goff— the golf class looks as mellow as a yoga retreat in a Tibetan monastery.

From a distance, Oliver and his 18 elementary-school-aged pupils, in their warm-up-stretch poses, almost appear to be moving in slow motion in the sectioned-off space Oliver has reserved (and organized into stations) for this weekly hour-long session.

“During our stretches, it’s a great time to get everyone focused and ping them with some questions that jog their memories on what we worked on in our last class,” Oliver, TGA Premier Sports of Long Beach owner, says. “It’s also the best time to review the academic lessons (TGA classes cleverly incorporate science, technology, reading and math (STEAM) into the PhD-designed class curriculum) so I’ll ask, ‘Who remembers what we learned about the effects of gravity… or spin?’ It always helps to engage their brains early, before we start hitting shots.”

TGA’s innovative before- and after-school enrichment programs and local sports camps bring developmental golf, tennis and an array of team sports directly to the students, saving parents travel and time while engaging kids in healthy new activities. Oliver’s Long Beach franchise is one of 77 TGA Premier Sports chapters nationwide. TGA (an acronym for Teach, Grow, Achieve) is on pace to enroll its one millionth student in 2020 since launching in 2003.

10-year-old Emily’s eyes follow “Coach Kevin” almost constantly during the hour. She’s quiet but attentive and serious about improving her golf skills. She raises her hand frequently as Oliver and Coach Eric engage the group. When the class breaks into stations, Emily’s face reveals how well she executes each chip. In the end, more balls landed inside the hula hoop target than not, so more smiles than frowns.

Station-based lessons keep every participant busy throughout the hour and reveal the crafted genius of the TGA lesson plan, which uses a handbook that is a lively mix of introductory golf with academic fundamentals that relate to the sport. By catering to new golfers ages five to 12 (70 percent of TGA participants and families have never played golf) and making golf available to the masses, TGA is activating a new generation of lifelong golfers. Scotty, age 6, brings big energy, big laughter and an already-obvious natural athleticism to the class. At the 15-minute mark, he’s already asked about “hitting drivers” three times. Tonight, he’ll have to wait until his third rotation before he and his group “let the Big Dog eat.” Chipping and putting sessions fly by, though, and soon Scotty is making exuberant three-quarter swings into a net with park- and backyard-safe plastic TGA limited flight golf balls. Oliver explains that TGA students learn a small (repeatable) “Tick-Tock” swing first before graduating to half- then three-quarter and full swings (toward colorful targets) so they develop distance control and pick up golf’s often-daunting movements in achievable steps.

TGA Premier Golf creates a simple player pathway for students and their families to build on their new-found golf passion and advance further in the sport. TGA programs are leading juniors to participating in other national golf programs like PGA Junior League and Drive, Chip & Putt, as well as playing on high school and college teams. With registration fees significantly less than $200, TGA’s six- or eight-week enrichment programs are also extremely affordable for families interested in starting their kids in golf.

“Our goal is to be the first step for juniors entering golf’s player pathway while specializing in introductory and recreational programs,’” says TGA Premier Sports CEO and founder Joshua Jacobs. “TGA gives kids and families a solid foundation to learn the sport in schools and community centers while providing a seamless transition to the golf course.”

TGA provides all of the equipment for kids at no cost in the program, including its own line of custom golf equipment to provide all players an affordable option to get into the sport. The program can also be utilized anywhere on school campuses regardless of weather, including gymnasiums, hallways, cafeterias, fields and blacktops.

“It’s incredible how fast an hour goes by but you can see a real sense of joy and accomplishment on the kids’ faces by the end of each class,” Oliver says. “The more they get into the groove of hitting shots into the targets or sinking putts, you hear a lot of eruptions of excitement.”

Right on cue, Emily, now brimming with confidence, recruits fellow fifth grader Juliana to take on classmates Colin and Liam in a putting challenge. They agree on a points system and promise no mercy. The quartet is fully engrossed in the competition and aware the younger kids are watching, but there’s still plenty of laughter and celebration when the putts fall their way.

TGA has progressive levels for participants to graduate to and, with the company’s new partnership with Youth on Course, a nationwide non-profit organization that secures subsidized golf fees for juniors, more TGA kids can (affordably) hit the links with confidence.

“Youth on Course is the perfect partner to further develop an effective Player Pathway. Our partnership enables our young golfers and their families to continue playing and developing into lifelong golfers,” Jacobs says.

Through an innovative franchise business model, TGA Premier Sports empowers passionate entrepreneurs, like Oliver, to impact the lives of youth and families by bringing youth sports enrichment programs and a “Changing Lives Through Sports” mantra into their communities. 

“TGA really makes an impact on kids and their families,” says Oliver. “Our kids get such a rewarding experience, meeting new friends, learning from successes and failures and seeing how far they can push themselves. I ran into the mom of one of my students the other night at a soccer practice and she came right up to me and told me ‘Grant LOVES golf now! He wants to take on-course lessons from a local pro and keep playing.’ That’s fulfilling our mission.”

For more information about Kevin Oliver’s Long Beach TGA chapter, visit http://playtga.com/longbeach/.

For more information on TGA Premier Sports, visit www.playtga.com or follow @TGA_Sports on Twitter.

Credit: TGA Premier Sports.

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