Chris Yoder

Chris Yoder

Scioto Country Club

2196 Riverside Drive

2196 Riverside Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43221, US

Please indicate past awards won/recognitions:
PGA Section Teacher of the Year, GRAA Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional, Other (Indicate specific awards below in 3-a)

Other awards won:
2021 and 2022 Top 50 Kids Coach US Kids Golf

Total number of individual lessons given per year:
Male: 325
Female: 150
Junior: 750

Total number of individual clinics given per year:

Please indicate any Growth of the Game initiatives your facility/academy has launched over the past year (please give specifics on such programs):
Over the past nine years, Chris Yoder, Director of Youth Player Development, has worked very hard to grow the junior program at Scioto implementing many new junior programs. The programs have grown a lot over the last several years through increased participation, playing golf on the golf course and a much higher level of competitive play.

The new programs are having a major impact on growing the game at Scioto. Junior rounds in 2018 were 479 and have grown to 1,236 in 2023. This is a 158 percent increase due to the programs Chris has built. More juniors are playing golf than ever and it is awesome to see the level at which they are playing at shown in the highlights below. It is great to see so many juniors playing golf!

Below are highlights from the 2023 Junior Golf Program:


Junior Program consists of Beginner (ages 5-14), Lily Pod (ages 7-10), Rising Stars (ages 10-13), Rising Stars+ (ages 10-13) and Elite Team (ages 14-18)
Scioto Country Club hosted the Drive, Chip and Putt Regional Qualifier
Coached 2023 National Drive, Chip and Putt Finalist Harrison Young – Boys 12-13 Division – DCP National Driving Champion – Traveled with Harrison to Augusta National
80 Drive, Chip & Putt Entries
All 80 Juniors participated in the 3rd Scioto Drive, Chip & Putt Training Day
The Augusta National Drive, Chip and Putt Task force recognized our training day and used our training day to create a template/model for The PGA of America and 20,000 plus PGA Professionals to follow.
2 PGA Magazine articles featuring Scioto’s innovative junior golf program – March and April issues
10 Drive, Chip & Putt Local Qualifiers
3 DCP Regional Finalist – Eva Emerson finished 2nd at Regional Finals earning an alternate spot in the Augusta National Finals
Coached 2 juniors to who qualified for the PGA Junior League 13U National Championship
42 Juniors visit Memorial Golf Tournament for Wednesday’s practice round
15 Juniors traveled to Donald Ross Jr. and we have a great group participating this year
30+ Juniors participating in US Kids tournaments
10+ GolfWeek Jr. Tour participants
8 Scioto Elite Team Members
Multiple SOPGA Junior Tour participants
7 Onsite Coaching Travel Tournaments including practice round and preparation for Ohio Junior Championship
50+ Lily Pod, Rising Stars and Rising Stars+ playing Wilson Road weekly with team practices at Scioto during the week
Launched 3 elevated Tuesday play days at Sports Ohio
125+ Beginners participating
75+ US Kids Pins earned
Dedicated Junior Golf Assistant along with summer interns to support junior program
6 US Kids World Championship participants representing Scioto Country Club
8 US Kids Ohio State Invitational participants
6 Ohio Junior participants
11 High School participants
Local high school, Upper Arlington, qualified for the state tournament in back to back seasons ending a state tournament drought since 2014
Luke Warner – Division I state high school first team All-Ohio
16 Jr. Club Championship players
16 Practice round prep days
9 Ranked Juniors in 2023 – 9 in 2022 – 7 in 2021 – 1 in 2020
3 Pink Head Covers Awarded
Launched new Junior Golf Fitness Program with 12 juniors – Coach Yoder and Coach Jared worked out with the team
Coach Yoder and Coach Jared played multiple rounds with the juniors this year
Launched Rising Stars+ Team with 13 players
Launched Shop Credit Money List for Tuesday and Wednesday play days
Launched Inaugural Sargent Cup in March featuring Ryder Cup style matches between Scioto CC and Atlanta Athletic Club. 17 Juniors and families traveled to Atlanta.
Launched Inaugural Ross Cup in October featuring Ryder Cup style matches between Scioto CC and The Country Club of Birmingham from Alabama
After a 3 year hiatus due to Covid and golf course restoration, we brought PGA Junior League back to Scioto featuring 4 in house developmental teams and one travel team consisting of 67 total PGA Junior League players
Partnered with Sports Ohio par 3 course to launch 3 elevated Tuesday play days for Lily Pod, Rising Stars and Rising Stars+
Chris Yoder US Kids Top 50 Award – 2022 and 2023
Chris Yoder 2022 GRAA Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional
Chris Yoder 2022 SOPGA Teacher/Coach of The Year

PGA Junior League

In 2023 Chris brought PGA Junior League back to Scioto Country Club. Unfortunately PGA Junior League was canceled in 2020 due to COVID and in 2021 and 2022 Scioto was unable to host due to the golf course closing for a major restoration project. Prior to COVID, Chris started PGA Junior League at Scioto in 2015 with one team. He grew that program to 3 teams in 2018 before it fell to two teams in 2019. While Scioto had to take a 3 year break from PGA Junior League, Chris was busy building other programs to grow junior golf at Scioto. As a result, Chris was able to host 5 PGA Junior League teams at Scioto in 2023. With the programs growth over the last couple years and combining PGA Junior League into existing programs, Chris built a 4 team in-house developmental league and 1 travel team. It is awesome to see so much excitement for PGA Junior League at Scioto. In 2023, 68 juniors participated in PGA Junior League compared to 20 in 2019, a 240 percent increase from the last time Scioto had a PGA Junior League team.

Sargent Cup and Ross Cup

PGA Junior League is fun team golf for players new to the game as well as more advanced players. This inspired Chris to build two fun new programs in 2023 for those highly competitive juniors, The Inaugural Sargent Cup and The Inaugural Ross Cup. These two events were built from scratch. The Sargent Cup held in March 2023 featured Ryder Cup style matches between juniors at Scioto Country Club and Atlanta Athletic Club.

The Sargent Cup is named after one of the founding members of the PGA of America, George Sargent, who was also the Head Golf Professional at Scioto Country Club before Bobby Jones recruited him to become the Head Golf Professional at Atlanta Athletic Club. While Scioto’s golf course was closed for restoration in 2021 and 2022, Chris was looking for fun creative programing for the juniors and running programs on the range and offsite. He was also looking for fun ways to engage juniors during the cold harsh months of winter. He knew a member from Atlanta Athletic Club who had also been a member at Scioto before moving down to Atlanta and he started to come up with the idea of creating a Junior Ryder Cup between Scioto and Atlanta Athletic Club. They settled on a date in early March 2023 which was great as it gave Scioto’s juniors something to work towards during the winter months and a trip to play golf in early March while Scioto’s golf course was still closed. The team engaged in practices during the winter months and even played golf at a few local municipal courses on warm days in February. Historically Scioto’s juniors would not touch a club until well after the Masters Tournament in April or even June once school released for the year. Having an event on the calendar in early March gave Scioto’s juniors something to work towards increasing golf activity, practice, excitement and play over the winter months.

The Sargent cup was built from scratch based on Chris’s junior golf, collegiate and PGA experience while respecting the past. The idea grew and the event became a combination of a junior event, collegiate event and member guest. 16 juniors and families traveled from Scioto to Atlanta in early March competing in matches over 3 days. They traveled together, attended a formal coat and tie dinner, wore matching team shirts, ate dinner together, practiced and played golf together. During the trip, something very interesting happed. Chris has traveled with juniors to tournaments to coach practice rounds and watch them in competition. During these events juniors typically come up to Chris having “mini panic attacks” and ask for “emergency lessons” as they are concerned about their swing, putting or short game etc. Obviously they want to shoot the lowest score possible and do the best they can but that was an individual tournament. The Sargent Cup was a team event and the experience was much different. At no point during the 3 days did any of the juniors have a “mini panic attack” or ask for the ”emergency lesson.” They were having fun together as a team playing team golf working with each other and helping each other. It was amazing to see how much fun they were having! The event was so much fun that Chris decided to build another event at the end of the season, called the Ross Cup featuring Ryder Cup style matches between Scioto Country Club and The Country Club of Birmingham. Both Scioto and The Country Club of Birmingham share the same legendary golf course architect, Donald Ross Jr. The Sargent Cup and Ross Cup will become annual events in the spring and fall creating a fun team golf experience and memories for our juniors!

Rising Stars+

Over the past several years Chris has built many programs at Scioto. The beginner program for juniors 5 to 14 years old. Lily pod team which is a select group of more competitive juniors between the ages of 6 to 9. Rising stars for juniors 10 to 13 years old and elite team which is a competitive group of 14 to 17 year old juniors. For 2023 Chris saw an opportunity to create a competitive team of juniors from the rising stars program. In 2023 Chris built a program of competitive juniors aged 10 to 13 and called the team Rising Stars +. Chris identified 14 juniors in this age range that were looking for additional golf opportunities and ready for competitive golf tournaments. This team was basically a mini junior elite team and was a perfect way to introduce the 10 to 13 year olds to programs, experiences, events, practice plans and concepts that the older juniors were involved with. They traveled to many of the same tournaments together and played together throughout the summer! Chris recognized everyone is going to have different goals with golf and this was a great opportunity for the competitive minded juniors.

Beginner Program

Historically, Scioto had produced some very good juniors helping Upper Arlington High School become one of the best high golf school programs in the state; however, since 2011 Upper Arlington hasn’t qualified for the state high school tournament. This was a huge drop off from where they had been. In fact, for several years Scioto didn’t even have a junior on the Varsity Team. The junior program at the club was very thin and the club approached Chris with an opportunity to oversee the entire junior program. He realized the importance of building the junior program back up through the youngest players and the beginner programs. Chris became a certified US Kids instructor and spent his first several years growing the beginner program by implementing the US Kids game based coaching system. This was extremely successful, as the beginner program grew from 30 kids to 150 kids. Chris implemented PGA Junior League and grew that program from 1 team to 3 teams. The kids loved playing together!

In the Fall of 2019, Chris Yoder identified that the culture needed to change even more to get the beginners to the elite level. Chris had a vision to bring a coaching model to the junior program at Scioto Country Club. This vision came from his junior golf days and collegiate experience at Wake Forest, both as a player and coach. Chris saw the success of PGA Junior League and knew a team concept was needed to continue to grow the program. The head golf professional and newly formed junior golf committee embraced the coaching model. Chris partnered with a member who had this same shared vision. Chris and the member recognized they needed to continue to dig deeper to change the culture and set out to build a community! Chris’s goal was to build a community turning these junior players into golfers that enjoyed building friendships and competition, helping take their games to the next level at middle school, high school, and eventually college. A community was built on friendship, faith, trust, hard work, commitment, patience and fellowship. This was the model Chris experienced growing up in Ashland and at Wake Forest. He saw this as the common denominator for success with tour players and high level amateurs and students he was having success with.

The beginner program and changing the culture through a coaching model and building a community has had a direct impact on junior golf at Scioto as Upper Arlington has qualified for the state tournament the past two seasons. Scioto’s growth has been a large reason why as now 6 juniors are on the varsity team and 3 juniors are on the JV team. It is awesome as all of these juniors have participated in our programs at Scioto.

Elite Team

The beginner program was very strong and there was a great opportunity to take these kids to the next level. The team concept flourished allowing Chris in 2021 to create two new programs, the Rising Stars and Junior Elite Team. The Junior Elite team had 13 high school and middle school kids. It was exciting to see the coaching model come to fruition. All elite team members received a team golf bag and team shirts. They are divided into 3 practice pods for practices so they can still be with friends and receive more personalized instruction. Chris scheduled 5 team tournaments during the summer where Chris traveled with the team helping the kids prepare by playing practice rounds with tournament onsite coaching. Team dinners complete the long day of golf Their first overnight trip was at the Golfweek Hueston Woods tournament in Oxford, Ohio where the entire team traveled, played a practice round together and had fun!

Team Room

Chris realized the juniors didn’t have anywhere to hang out at the club. One of Chris’s goals was to make the club a more welcoming environment for the kids, giving them a place to hang out and build camaraderie. Chris, along with a member found, an ideal location next to the driving range which was only being used for storage. Chris helped revitalize, design and build a junior team room displaying the junior team board, the Jack Nicklaus Junior Club championship trophy and plaque, along with a collegiate players plaque. The team room has a putting green, couch, television and Coach Yoder’s desk. This is a great place for team meetings and gives the junior a place to get out of the sun, rest and relax with friends between practice and play. The team room was completed this past summer.

Rising Stars

The Rising Stars program featured 45 kids and follows the same coaching model. Chris reached out to partner with a local municipal course where the Rising Stars played twice a week throughout the summer. The program also featured practices, a week long camp and team shirts. The camp tournament was so successful that Chris started a fall Rising Stars tournament series at the same local municipal course. These events were run just like a tournament with live scoring, scorecards, medals for top 5 finishers and season long points race with player of the year. Chris even brought in food, Chick-fil-A, City Barbeque, pizza, and Subway, for the juniors after play.

Now, juniors from all 3 programs are playing in junior golf tournaments. Chris implemented the team concept with the tournaments by organizing and coaching kids during practice rounds and helping them prepare for their tournaments. Chris started team dinners after the tournaments for team building where families can build relationships and share in the success of the day! After the last fall US Kids tournament of the season, 45 people attended the team dinner at Old Bag of Nails! It was an awesome community building event!

Chris added unique tangible incentives to each of the junior programs to help encourage excitement, competition, and retention. Chris implemented the US Kids Player Pathway Program and pin system in the beginner program. Chris created a simple summer and fall season points race for the Rising Stars. Chris implemented a pink head cover and arrowhead incentive program with the elite team. Chris awards a pink head cover with green dancing arrowheads to a junior when they win a golf tournament. Arrowheads are earned for sportsmanship, work ethic, attitude, etc. Juniors are proud to add these to their personalized navy Scioto Junior Elite Team bags.

Donald Ross Junior Team

To further build the community, Chris created Scioto’s first ever Donald Ross Junior Travel Team. Chris assembled 16 juniors and families and organized a team travel trip for the Donald Ross Junior golf tournament, which is held annually at Pinehurst, North Carolina, between Christmas and the New Year. Chris called this team the DRTT – Donald Ross Travel Team. Chris created DRTT practices during the months leading up to the Pinehurst trip and this kept the juniors engaged with golf during the months of November and December when they typically put their clubs away. Chris organized all the entries, travel, practice round times together, team play at The Cradle and a team dinner with 43 people. Chris helped the players with their swing technique and coached the players during the practice round helping them navigate the challenging Pinehurst greens and dormant bermuda grass. This was a great community, team building, coaching trip and tournament! So many great memories were created at this event and Chris reflected back on his junior golf days and developed a catch phrase, “Junior Golf Is The Best!”

PGA Tour Memorial Tournament Trip

Another great team trip Chris has implemented was a Wednesday practice round field trip to The Memorial Tournament. Chris organized 45 juniors from the Rising Stars and Elite Team to attend the practice round. This was a great team bonding event to start the summer for the juniors. The juniors wore matching team shirts. Players and fans noticed a group of 45 kids lining the ropes, all wearing the same shirt! It was a great scene! The kids learned a lot by watching their favorite players alongside the best players in the world!

Scioto Drive Chip and Putt Training Day

Another program Chris implemented was the Scioto Drive, Chip and Putt Training Day. Due to Chris’s efforts, in 2022 Scioto had 101 kids sign up for Drive Chip and Putt. In 2021 Scioto had 70 kids sign up for the Drive, Chip and Putt. In prior years Scioto averaged 2 kids who signed up for Drive Chip and Putt. This past year, Chris personally reached out to youth members to tell them about the program encouraging them to sign up. 101 juniors from the club signed up! Chris knew this was a new experience for everyone and there was so much excitement and energy that Chris created a Scioto Drive, Chip and Putt Training Day. He reached out to the PGA section office to get their blessing and they supplied him with scorecards, scoresheets and rules sheets as he wanted to run the event exactly like the local qualifier. Chris had PGA professionals running each station providing live actual results just like the kids experience at the local qualifier. The training day was a great success as it gave the juniors who participated an opportunity to test their skills and experience the Drive, Chip and Putt before they attempted to qualify at their local level a month later. In addition, Chris invited Ron Priest, US Kids rep, to the event. Ron displayed products, signage and provided a demo day for kids that wanted to try out new products. Scioto’s merchandiser helped set up a mobile junior golf shop. Volunteers made this special for the kids and their families by serving snow cones and cookies next to the scoreboard run by a PGA Professional. The scene and feedback was incredible as many tenured members mentioned it was the best scene they had ever witnessed at Scioto! It has been culture changing and community building! The training day was so beneficial for the kids, as Scioto had 11 kids advance through the local qualifier and one advance to the regional qualifier. Chris is excited to grow this even more next year as the goal is to get someone to Augusta! Chris created a catch phrase “Lets get someone to Augusta!”

College Panel and Roundtable

Chris implemented seminars into the junior program at Scioto. Chris realizes there is so much more to developing a junior player than just lesson time. Chris hosted the first college golf coaches panel and roundtable with 8 college coaches representing Divisions I, II, and III, of both men’s and women’s teams. Ohio State, Dayton, Marshall, Xavier, Tiffin and Wittenberg attended. Chris moderated the event reflecting on his college playing days and coaching days connecting with the coaches on the panel by asking them questions to help educate juniors and parents. The evening was very interactive as Chris played several videos which were used for talking points. Coach Jerry Haas, Chris’s golf coach and current coach at Wake Forest, former boss, and mentor, delivered a very special video message to the juniors and parents. Navigating the recruiting process can be very challenging. The evening was very informative for the juniors, as they heard what college golf is all about.

US Kids Parent Seminar – Helping your young player reach their full potential

This past April we invited John Bryan and John Godwin to present to our members in a seminar called “Helping Your Young Player Reach Their Full Potential”. The idea for this seminar actually started back in 2021 when my 7 year old boy, William, was playing at the US Kids World Championship and my wife listened to this same seminar. I have obviously heard John and John speak on many occasions through the US Kids Certified training programs and at the PGA Show but this was my wife’s first time hearing them and she thought it was wonderful information. At this time I began to think about how great it would be for them to come to Scioto to share their knowledge with our families. I approached John and John at the PGA Show this past January about the idea of presenting and asked if they have ever presented to parents at a country club. They have traveled the world educating golf professionals but never at a club to present to parents. We all instantly became very excited to do this for the first time! The evening was wonderful with again over 125 people in attendance. We can’t thank John and John enough for their efforts to make this special evening happen. After the event I had several parents approach me and email me about how the information was extremely helpful for them and how they were excited to become a better sports parent. Engaging parents in their juniors journey is essential!

Lily Pod and Junior Fitness

Due to the success of all our juniors programs over the past several years Chris recently launched two new programs in 2022 and 2023. Lily Pod Program and Junior Fitness Program. The Lily Pod program, targeting ages 5 to 9, is a program we are especially excited for as it is a group of young juniors who are really loving golf! The philosophy is simple, to have fun in a team environment! With this group we partnered with a local municipal course to provide additional play days, an introduction to tournament golf through encouraging US Kids tournament entry, practice rounds, team dinners, Lily Pod team scramble tournaments at the local municipal course where parents can caddy for their juniors, fun field trips and team bonding activities. Everything we are doing is centered around fun and building passion and love for the game of golf. Another program Chris just launched this year is our junior golf fitness program. We are very excited for this program and partnership with our junior golf fitness director. 11 juniors signed are in the fitness program and Chris is excited to be in the gym working out with the team of juniors and building the culture.

The coaching model team concept is changing the culture and helping build programs at Scioto Country Club. The programs have grown so much, in 2021 Chris was able to hire a fully dedicated 6 month junior golf intern this past season. The programs have continued to grow allowing the 6 month intern to turn into a full time junior golf assistant.

Growing the Game

In addition to juniors Chris Yoder’s coaching abilities are widespread as he is able to instruct a broad spectrum of learning abilities. This next story is a great example of the depth and range he has and the impact he can have on so many different people. One of his most proud moments happened in the fall of 2019. Chris had been teaching a beginner junior golfer, Preston, for a couple years prior to 2019. Preston had a learning disability, autism, and golf became a perfect sport for him, as it is an individual sport. Golf became more than a sport to Preston; it became a way of life for him. In 2018, he qualified for the 7th grade team, as there were no cuts. However, 8th grade was different, as they would have cuts. Preston was unsure if he wanted to try out for the team, not feeling comfortable with the possibility he might not make the team. However, before his 8th grade school year, he made the commitment to try out for the golf team understanding the circumstances.

Chris continued their driving range lesson program, but he was averaging 65 to 70 for 9 holes. Preston’s father and Chris knew he needed to lower his scores to have a chance to make the team. Chris encouraged him to play in tournaments that summer to prepare for tryouts. His tournament scores were still really high and they knew they needed to continue to dig deep and develop his game. Two months before tryouts, Chris decided to add practice rounds with course coaching to their program. Over the summer months, they did seven nine hole practice rounds/playing lessons and this was having a huge impact, as his scores were coming down little by little. Together, they created a handwritten golf journal documenting the lesson instruction, course play, warmup routine and golf course notes that he kept in his bag. He referenced this journal all the time before and during play. It was very important to him. They spent many evenings at the golf course and driving range until dark working hard together. In their time together, the son, father, and Chris developed a very special relationship. They enjoyed their time on the course together! Chris believed in Preston and they had faith and trust in what Chris was teaching them.

Chris received an early morning phone call before the first qualifying round from Preston’s father, who was in a panic, as Preston left his journal at the learning center. They had a lesson the evening before. Chris knew how important this journal was for Preston as it kept him focused on the proper things and was a huge part of his routine. Chris made a special early morning trip to the learning center and drove to the qualifying course to deliver the journal to Preston. Preston was so excited to see Chris and the journal. During qualifying, the father texted Chris throughout the round with updates. On the last day of tryouts, Chris wasn’t getting any updates from Preston’s Dad. He knew it was a stressful time and wasn’t sure what to think when he wasn’t hearing anything back. Chris soon realized why he wasn’t texting, as the greatest update came while Chris was teaching a lesson at the club. Chris noticed their car pulling into the parking lot. Preston and his Dad approached Chris during his lesson and they were both speechless just showing Chris a piece of paper with his qualifying scores. Preston averaged 50.5, his name was highlighted, showing he qualified for the last roster spot! It was a very emotional moment as all 3 were speechless and it brought tears of joy and gratitude to everyone! This is one of Chris’s proudest moments! That evening Preston’s Dad sent Chris a picture with Preston kneeling by his school bag wearing his team shirt! He treasures the picture and keeps it on display in his office.

Chris Yoder has had a big impact on growing the ladies program at Scioto through teaching clinics and individual lessons. In 2012, when Chris started at Scioto, the ladies clinic program consisted of 4 spring clinics once a week throughout the month of May. Chris helped grow the spring clinic program to 3 different sessions per week for a total of 12 spring clinics. There was so much interest and demand from the ladies that Chris created several summer clinics. In addition, Chris took several ladies on the golf course for playing lessons. A few years ago, the program was growing so large that Scioto hired Jackie Buckley, women’s golf coordinator, to run the ladies program. Today, Chris is still heavily involved with the spring clinics and teaches a few ladies. Last fall Chris conducted several playing lessons for ladies helping them feel more comfortable and giving them confidence on the golf course!

Chris Yoder has dedicated his career to growing the game at all levels.

Coaching at the highest collegiate level, coaching beginners, juniors, men, women and seniors, coaching students with learning disabilities, building programs at Scioto to coaching 2 current state champions shows how far Chris can reach and the range he has. Chris is truly growing the game and impacting the lives of so many people!

Please share any programming you have made to keep your customers & students engaged:
Chris realizes the recipe for success in engaging and retaining players is building a community and creating experiences and memories that last a lifetime!

This year Chris built two fun junior ryder cups, The Sargent Cup and The Ross Cup. These events inspired juniors to practice and work hard leading up to the event giving them something to look forward to. The trip to Atlanta in March for the Sargent Cup was a great springboard for juniors as they had so much fun and got them excited for the summer golf season. The Ross Cup this fall was so fun that juniors are already asking about the trip to the Country Club of Birmingham in the spring. They events anchor our season and help stretch golf and excitement into the off season keeping juniors engaged throughout the year.

Another great program Chris added in 2023 to keep juniors engaged was the shop credit money list. The money list was used in place of a points system throughout all the junior programs on the junior golf play days. 55 juniors competed each week throughout the summer from the Lily Pod, Rising Stars and Rising Stars + team for an opportunity to earn shop credit on the Tuesday play days at a local par 3 course. An elevated play day was held once a month 20 minutes away at another par 3 course. Juniors competed in a shotgun start all finishing at the same time creating a fun atmosphere once play was completed as everyone gathered around the scoreboard to see the results. Shop credit money list season totals were posted and prizes were awarded for closest to the pin on each hole. Rising Stars + and Elite team members had an additional opportunity to compete on Wednesday’s mornings at Scioto. There was a lot of buzz throughout the summer as juniors were talking about how they were going to use their shop credit winnings

I was approached a couple years ago by our new head golf professional and some members of the club about why the local high school, Upper Arlington, had been on a downward trend of high level competitive high school golf. Scioto Country Club had produced some very good players in the past that helped put the local high school on the competitive landscape. There has been a cyclical shift of elite level high school golf to another high school across town, Dublin Jerome. They asked me to closely examine the cause of this shift and I identified we needed to change the culture of junior golf not only at our club but within the community. I was able to partner with a club member who was extremely passionate about junior golf and we had shared visions. We talk all the time and he plays a vital roll in communicating with member families. Over the past couple years I have been able to dive deep into the meaning of culture and found some answers to the questions we had been asking ourselves.

What makes Dublin Jerome High School and the Dublin area so unique?  Why are they having success. How does Jerome have 22 Division I college players in the last 10 years – yes 22 – and 6 state high school championships in the last 10 years compared to Scioto’s/Upper Arlington’s 0 Division I college players and 0 state high school championships.  I am proud to say that because of what we have been building over the past couple years we had our first junior golfer this past season commit to play college golf. Scioto’s first in 10 plus years.

How does Ashland, Ohio, my small hometown of 20,000 people with limited resources, have a long standing tradition of golf dating back 40 years.  How did Ashland produce this past summer the current Ohio Amateur Champion and Ohio Junior Champion in the same year, 2 students whom I coach. An achievement that has not been done before. Golf roots are deep in this small town.  How did we, Ashland High School, beat Upper Arlington High School, who was at the top of Ohio High School golf, in the 1998 state high school tournament?  What makes Wake Forest Golf, my college team alma mater so unique and kept me there for 6 years as an assistant, never wanting to leave?

As mentioned, we identified a few years ago the culture had changed within the community and club at Scioto. The dive into culture has allowed me to reflect on my own personal experiences and identity why this shift started happening years before I got to Scioto. As we all know, upward or downward trends don’t happen over night. The answer to what makes Dublin, Dublin Jerome, Ashland, and Wake so unique is simple – they built a golf community!  A community of people around them with faith, trust, patience, commitment and fellowship.

Ashland, Dublin, and the local clubs in Dublin don’t have the resources Upper Arlington and Scioto have, but they have a community which is more powerful than anything!  So many people underestimate how powerful this is and get caught up in numbers, positions, technique, and THE CHASE!  Of course trackman, swing catalyst, and all those tools are great but without a community they are just independent, superficial, pieces and parts.  They check the box!  Now I am not discounting those in anyway because they have completely changed our industry and are extremely helpful and valuable for our teaching.  Having those tools help recruit, sell, teach and helps get players to the next level.  They are extremely helpful and incredible!  I compare this to how universities build state of the art facilities. It is the “wow factor!”  All I am saying is you need a community to make it work!  Community is stronger than resources when resources don’t have community!  Community builds friendships, passion and love for the game, which then leads to self drive and “want to”, which leads to coaching, teaching, fundamentals, etc.  We are building a community and a team!

In this discovery of community I have found that you have to dig deep by engaging young kids and their families and create a culture that builds and fosters the game of golf. I am doing this by:

Building trips to create memories that last a lifetime
Created a local, drive, chip and putt training day at Scioto in 2021, 2022 and 2023 with 100 kids – helping them prepare for the local qualifier
Promoted US Kids tournaments by increasing tournament participation 300 percent
Organized team practice rounds which drastically improved their scores
Team Tournaments
Tournament team dinners with families after tournament rounds
Organized Memorial Tournament trip with juniors and families – 45 juniors attended
Created Rising Star Tournament Series at offsite golf course with parents caddying and food provided
Organized 15 families to travel to Donald Ross Junior in between Christmas and The New Year

We have unique tangible incentives at each level of our program to help encourage excitement and retention. For the beginner program we implemented the US Kids Player Pathway Program and pin system. With our Rising Stars we created a summer and fall season points race. Our elite team was introduced to a pink head cover incentive program and arrowhead program. We award a pink head cover with green dancing arrowheads to a junior when they win a golf tournament. Kids are proud to add these to their personalized navy Scioto Junior Elite Team bags. We award arrowheads for sportsmanship, attitude, work ethic, milestones, etc. This past season we awarded 5 pink head covers to our elite team.

One important new aspect of our program to help change the culture, build a team and community was creating a junior team room. I realized that junior golfers didn’t have anywhere to hang out at the club. One of our goals was to make the club a more welcoming environment for the kids and to encourage team camaraderie. A member and I found an unused storage room next to the driving range and first tee. It is in an amazing location. We solicited support from our head pro to revitalize the space and create a junior team room. This revitalized space has a putting green, couch, tv, foosball table, trophy case and plaques with junior club champions and collegiate players and a team player board. My desk is also in this space so I can be present and engage with the kids. This space allows kids to come inside and cool off on hot days, find a place to wait during weather delays, and simply a place to call home.

The foundation of our junior program is building a community. Our community has a coaching model vs the individual solo lesson model. Yes individual lessons are important but there is so much more to developing a player than just individual lessons. It is awesome to be on the course in a team setting coaching our kids, playing practice rounds, going to tournaments, road trips, team dinners after tournaments and practice rounds, simply getting kids together to have fun and play golf! No one can see into the future but one thing is for sure, the journey will be tremendous as we build a community of relationships, friendships, trust, faith, patience, commitment, and fellowship! In doing this we keep students engaged and impact lives! Teacher’s change swings but coaches who care have the power to change lives!