GRAND RAPIDS – Randy Nelson of Grand Rapids started playing golf when he was 13, so last summer he started taking his 13-year-old son Aaron out golfing.
“I’ve played my whole life, and enjoyed it,” he said. “I want the same for him.”
A stop at the Golf Association of Michigan booth during the recent West Michigan Golf Show resulted in Aaron joining Youth on Course through the GAM Foundation. This summer when he plays with dad at participating golf courses he will pay $5 or less as a member of Youth on Course.
“That’s great, less cost for us and I think it will get us to go more often,” Randy said. “I like that they are keeping his handicap for him, too.”
Aaron said he liked golf right way, and his favorite golfer is Tiger Woods.
“I want to get better at it because I think I will like it even more,” he said. “I’ve thought about trying to get good enough to play on the team when I get to high school. We’ll see how it goes.”
Youth on Course, a national program that the GAM Foundation adopted as a major initiative, allows kids ages 6-18 to play golf for just $5 or less at participating courses.
In 2016 the GAM became the first regional golf association east of the Mississippi River to support the initiative. Under the GAM Foundation Youth on Course Program golf facilities that choose to participate are subsidized. For each $5 round they receive the difference between the $5 paid and a contracted junior rate.
Over 100 Michigan golf courses are now participating via the GAM Foundation in Youth on Course, and in 2019 the GAM Foundation won the William E. Hammonds Award for Excellence from the national Youth on Course program. The national Youth on Course organization gives the award to honor foundations that have made exceptional progress in growing the program by attracting more members and member clubs.
The GAM was a primary sponsor of the West Michigan Golf Show at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. West Michigan golfers took advantage of the GAM booth to renew memberships, and some new members were also added to both the GAM and to the Youth on Course ranks.
The 32nd edition of the show featured hundreds of exhibits from golf courses, resorts and golf equipment vendors, as well as on-stage clinics and talks, chances to win skill prizes in hole-in-one, driving and putting contests, door prizes and more.
The GAM will also have a booth in March at the Michigan Golf Show at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.
-Greg Johnson, [email protected]