By Mark Wehrman EBS GOLF COLUMNIST
This year marks the inaugural season for PGA Junior League in the Bozeman-Big Sky area. So far, the league has surpassed all of my expectations. Even with the small enrollment numbers at Ophir Middle and Lone Peak High schools, Big Sky managed to field two teams this year with a total of 21 participants.
PGA Junior League is a nationally supported program by the PGA of America for kids ages 7-13. Its purpose is to create a “Little League” for golf. Almost every kid in America grew up playing, at one point, Little League baseball. The PGA Junior League is meant to mirror that program, only for golf. All of the signup is done on a site-specific online platform designed for the PGA Junior League.
On this site, parents can register their kids and pay the league fee, view the tournament and match schedule, and also see practice times and other team information. Included in their league fee is a home and away jersey, tee shirt, ball cap, bag tag and shoe-string backpack. There are a total of six matches and a weekly organized practice that comprise the season schedule.
For the Bozeman-Big Sky schedule, there are a total of five matches scheduled with each course hosting the league one time. Matches are scheduled on Sundays and so far we have been to Bridger Creek, Black Bull, and Cottonwood Hills, and Riverside Country Club golf courses in Bozeman. The Big Sky Golf Course rounds out the season with the final PGA Junior League action on July 7.
Big Sky practices have been from 4:30-6 p.m. on Thursdays. The parents have been a huge part of the success for each team as there are simply not enough pros to have eyes and ears on each match going on. I would like to offer a heartfelt “thank you” to the parents that have been so helpful each week.
With the first year success of this nationally recognized program, I feel that the sky is the limit going forward. Next year, the registration will be available by April 1 at the latest and all kids ages 7-13 will be accepted.
Based off of feedback from the kids, parents and pros so far, I think Big Sky can field three to four teams next season. If you are in the area, please feel free to stop by after 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, at Big Sky Golf Course to watch these young golfers have the time of their life. Oh, and their uniforms are pretty cute too!
Mark Wehrman is the Head Golf Professional at the Big Sky Resort Golf Course and has been awarded the PGA Horton Smith Award recognizing PGA Professionals who are model educators of PGA Golf Professionals.