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PGA Jr. League Rises in New Jersey

Five years ago, PGA Jr. League was founded by the PGA of America in an effort to engage youth players to play in a team-formatted golf environment.

Since its initiation, the New Jersey Golf Foundation, with one of its missions to expand youth golf, has made efforts to get Section PGA Professionals and junior golfers involved.

Team New Jersey, which hails from Royce Brook Golf Club in Hillsborough, NJ, made its third consecutive trip and fourth trip in the last five years

to nationals November 18-21 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, after winning the Mid-Atlantic region.

Their captain, Anthony Latham, the 2013 NJPGA Youth Player Development Award winner, believes PGA Jr. League is the best way for kids to get involved in golf through a team environment.

“This concept is one that they’re familiar and comfortable with, plus the scramble format leads to lots of low scores,” Latham, the Director of Instruction at Royce Brook Golf Academy said. “They improve as individuals without the pressure of playing alone but with a partner and as member of a team.”

Latham’s team finished fourth in the PGA Jr. League National Championship after falling to Team Ohio, 6.5-5.5 in a third-place match. They defeated Team Jersey-Philly and The First Tee of Essex in the New Jersey Sub-Regional.

“The competition has increased in New Jersey and nationwide,” Latham said.

In January 2017, it was announced that 36,000 junior golfers participated in PGA Jr. League in 2016, a record high. Each PGA Jr. League team consists of players 13-and-under.

Last year, there were 70 PGA Jr. League teams in New Jersey, with 56 different PGA Professionals serving as captains at 46 different facilities.

“Because of the increased numbers, I have been running my own league the past four years,” Latham said. “Every year there seems to be more and more clubs offering PGA Jr. League.”

The format of PGA Jr. League is a two-person scramble format that encourages a team environment. Local PGA Professional captains of each team can substitute players every three holes, giving everyone a chance to get involved.

“Most golf is stressful, a lot of the junior tours are competitive,” Chris Hunt said. “But [PGA Jr. League] has numbers on the back of their jerseys, they come out as a team, play relaxed golf, and it’s a way to introduce and get kids on the golf course.”

There are four-to-six games per season, and four, nine-hole matches each game. Seasons usually run from April 1 - July 31, with postseason regionals and the nationals in the later parts of the year.

“Golf is important for kids to learn so that the game itself will continue to grow,” Latham said. “The many wonderful things and opportunities it provides to one’s life such as travel, friendships, a college education, or perhaps even a career is what makes this game to kids so important.”

2016 PGA Jr. League Teams in New Jersey

Royce Brook Golf Club

Anchor Golf Center

Black Oak Golf Club

Brooklake Country Club

Hawk Pointe Golf Club

Mercer County Golf Academy

Galloping Hill Golf Course

Plainfield West 9 Golf Course

North Jersey Country Club

Newton Country Club

Cedar Hill Country Club

Montclair Golf Club

Stanton Ridge

Colonial Terrace

Metuchen Golf and Country Club

Flanders Valley Golf Club

Raritan Valley Country Club

River Vale Country Club

The Bedens Brook Club

Echo Lake Country Club

Preakness Hills Country Club

Shackamaxon Country Club

Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club

Liberty National Golf Club

Cherry Valley Country Club

Ramsey Golf & Country Club

Forsgate Country Club

New Jersey National

Fiddler's Elbow Country Club

Stonybrook Golf Club

Canoe Brook Country Club

Greenacres Country Club

Fairmount Country Club

Echo Lake Country Club

Somerset Hills Country Club

Trump National Golf Club Colts Neck

Mendham Golf and Tennis Club

Trump National Golf Club

Jumping Brook Country Club

Spring Brook Country Club

Plainfield Country Club

TPC Jasna Polana/The Ridge at Back Brook

Morris County Golf Club

White Beeches Golf & Country Club

Forest Hill Field Club

Springdale Golf Club

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