“Golf, like measles, should be caught young.”
(Grand Rapids, Mich.) The future of the game and how it will grow are paramount concerns for golf’s major organizations at national, state and local levels. As seen at the West Michigan Golf Show on Feb. 10-12 in Grand Rapids, there are a number of proven and successful programs attracting juniors to the game. All will have representatives and information at the Golf Show at DeVos Place.
The First Tee of West Michigan—founded in Grand Rapids in 2011 as a local chapter to the international organization, it has grown from 73 participants to more than 700 last year. Its mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. The program partners with college students, golf courses, school districts and youth agencies to provide an entry point to young people who would not otherwise be exposed to the sport. Recently, TFTOWM was named a winner in the small organization category of the MiBiz Best-Managed Nonprofits Awards in the category for organizations with budgets of less than $1 million. Visit
PGA Junior League—ended 2016 with record-setting numbers across the country. More than 36,000 participants from over 2900 teams were involved with the PGA Junior League, a fun, social and inclusive opportunity to learn and play golf in a recreational team setting complete with numbered jerseys. The initiative is led by the PGA of America with PGA and LPGA golf professionals serving as local organizers and captains. In Michigan, the PGA Junior League has seen tremendous growth in attracting boys and girls—ages 13 and under of all abilities—to a game that lasts a lifetime. The program utilizes a two-person scramble format for competition, which reinforces the team concept and creates a friendly environment for learning the game. The regular season runs from April 1- July 31. Registration for the 2017 season opened on Feb. 1. Visit
Drive, Chip & Putt Championship—founded in 2013 as a joint initiative by the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America. The DCP Championship is a free nationwide junior golf development competition aimed at growing the game by focusing on these three fundamental skills employed in golf. For girls and boys ages 7-15, participants who advance through local, sub-regional and regional qualifying in each age/gender category earn a place in the National Finals, which is conducted at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters Tournament and is broadcast live by Golf Channel. Registration for the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is now open. Local qualifying will be available in all 50 states. Visit
Youth On Course—is a recent initiative of the Golf Association of Michigan Foundation Inc. aimed at providing youngsters with access to golf courses and instruction. Excellent programs like The First Tee, PGA Junior League Golf and other local efforts get kids excited about golf but then there is often a barrier for regular play because of costs and affordability. Youth On Course subsidizes rounds of golf for those aged 6-18 with financial need so young golfers pay only $5 per round. The GAM Foundation is partnering with The First Tee chapters and other junior golf associations across the state to help those golfers get involved with Youth On Course. Visit
Along with information about these fine programs, the West Michigan Golf Show has an attractive line-up of junior golf activities all weekend.
- Parents and junior golfers will love the PGA Family Fun Zone where activities include: taking a swing at Golfzilla and GolfGator, large inflatable targets; clinics from The First Tee of West Michigan; and miniature golf. On Sunday, all juniors age 14 and under are admitted free with the first 100 receiving a free hat.
- More experienced junior golfers will visit the Show’s large hitting net where Michigan PGA professionals are providing free golf tips.
- Over at the Ferris State PGA Golf Management Club Testing Area, parents and juniors can check out the top brands and the hottest clubs, many with the latest junior equipment.
- Benefitting The First Tee of West Michigan, there’s a Saturday morning pancake breakfast ($6/adults & $4/kids) starting at 9 AM in the Grand Gallery at DeVos Place.
Produced by ShowSpan, Inc., the West Michigan Golf Show is sponsored by Treetops Resort, Applied Imaging, Odawa Casino, Golf Association of Michigan, Ferris State PGM Program, and the Michigan PGA. Hours are 2:00 pm-9:00 pm, Friday; 10:00 am-7:00 pm, Saturday; and 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $4 for children ages 6-14 (on Friday and Saturday), and children 5 and under are free. A multi-day ticket for all 3 days is $15 and a twilight rate ticket is $7 for adults for the last two hours of the show each day. Tickets will be available at the door as well as online at