Joseph Canny, the 2013 PGA Nebraska Section Youth Player Development Award Recipient and 2014 Section Bill Strausbaugh Award Recipient, is the PGA Player Development Supervisor at Jim Ager Golf Course, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Joseph Canny on the importance of creating a youth golf fitness program:
Increasing play among youth golfers is a vital part of our business at Jim Ager Golf Course. So much of what we do is geared toward new golfers, young golfers, some kids who have promise to play competitively through their school years, and others who simply love to play the game with family and friends. One program we run in conjunction with a great local sponsor is a Youth Fitness Program. This challenge rewards kids for playing the game and promotes healthy living by highlighting the benefits of walking the course every time they play. Players win a Clicgear push cart, courtesy of Union Bank & Trust of Lincoln, Nebraska, for playing 50 rounds of golf throughout the season. To add a social aspect to the challenge, as well publicize the program as much as possible, we have boards posted in our golf shop with each youth golfer’s name and check boxes for each round he or she played to date. Unfortunately, as some kids realize they will not attain the milestone, they stop marking the board with each round played. To rectify this scenario, we will be offering smaller prizes for shorter milestones in 2019. With great sponsorship and a wonderful staff on hand at our facility, we are focused on growing the game and increasing play among our youngest golfers. The program started in 2017 with smaller prizes and no sponsor; the mission, however, was the same. And now as we grow even bigger in 2019, coming off almost 1,000 recorded rounds directly attributable to this challenge in 2018, we look to increase sponsorship, grow rounds even more, and sell even more youth memberships than we did in 2018.
Joseph Canny on the business impact of creating a youth golf fitness program:
As a fitness challenge we record more than just rounds played; we keep track of miles walked, steps taken, calories burned, and special benchmarks in distance, like who walked to outer space or perhaps around the world once or twice. At only $8.75 per round, our prices are set with the notion that a full course is a good course, especially when the future of the game is out there playing. We sold some memberships in 2018 at $225 per kid and are always pleased when we see our regular golfers bringing friends to try the game for themselves. Of course, parents play as well, and once we have mom and dad on site, we are able to cross sell them into some of our adult programs, as well as the other courses we have in our network throughout the Lincoln area. There were 72 kids’ names on our board in 2018, ranging in age from 5-17. As stated earlier, they recorded almost 1,000 rounds but definitely played more than that, becoming lax in posting on the board late in the season when the push cart was not within reach anymore. Union Bank & Trust is happy to sponsor and they use photos of our golfers in their marketing, evidence of their commitment to the community in which they do business. The Youth Fitness Program has grown nicely in two short years and with more great things on the horizon, the sky is literally the limit for our young golfers.
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