|Learning the Origin of the Minnesota Junior Golf Program|
|Sean Lehman participates in a Junior Golf event at Bunker Hills GC in 2015, while his parents, Tom and Melissa, look on. Photo Courtesy Chris Rocheford|
By Chris RochefordCurious to know the origin of the Junior Golf program in the state of Minnesota? Look no further.
Sitting on the steps of the dormitories at Carleton College in Northfield, MN during the late 1970's, PGA Professional George Reynolds, an Active Life Member and Half-Century Member, said to his colleague Dave Haberle, who was the Executive Director at the time and the Section's very first, "we need to figure out a way to create a program for these kids to play in."
The pair ran a week-long golf teaching academy at Northfield Golf Club that was assembled by the junior golf committee of the Section. This was just not enough for these juniors, they needed change; something to peak their interests. "We wanted these kids to be able to play more than just their home course and present them with other challenges," Reynolds said.
Determined and passionate about the game of golf, Reynolds and Haberle along with Joel Goldstrand, Bob Olds, Frank Taylor among other Section leaders, acted upon the message. As relentless ambassadors for golf, this group spent countless hours meeting with PGA Professionals at local courses urging them to be a part of the movement.
With support from several local courses, the Junior Tour was formed. The tour consisted of around nine events in its first year, pretty impressive for building off of a small, short golf academy at Carleton College. The fee to play in a Junior Tour event in the late 1970's...$4!
What is even more compelling than that is the courses required no fees for hosting these events, they were just excited to help increase play.
"These kids knew they were playing for nothing more than a small medal or to see their name at the top of the leaderboard," said Haberle. "But they did not care, they would play just to be able to play."
The money raised during these tournaments and events was given to PGA of America and that funded an earlier version of what is now known as the Minnesota PGA Junior Golf Association.
Today, the Minnesota PGA Junior Golf Association is responsible for hosting 180 events featuring over 1,700 junior golfers in a 10-week span in Minnesota as well as North and South Dakota.
This goes to show how a few unselfish acts of kindness can lead to big and better things in the future. We are capable of so much more than we may believe, let's continue to make a difference in the community and grow the game of golf.
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