Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gateway PGA Junior Program Offers Instruction, Competition and Fun

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gateway PGA Junior Program Offers Instruction, Competition and Fun

Article excerpt

The Junior PGA Championship will be played this summer at the Country Club of St. Albans near Wildwood.

For the first time, the event will be split into boys and girls divisions and has expanded its field from 78 to 144 in each competition.

The girls' tournament will be held July 18-21, with the boys' set for July 31-Aug. 3.

"This is a major production and the Gateway PGA Section is really excited to have a role in hosting for both the boys and the girls," said Nolan Toovey, Gateway PGA's director of junior golf. "There will be top young golfers from all over the world coming to St. Louis to compete and the great thing for us is that we'll have eight spots in each tournament for junior players from our area."

While the Junior PGA Championship will certainly be a highlight of the area golf season, it's just one of a number of junior programs the PGA Gateway Section has to offer as it serves local PGA members and works to grow the game of golf.

Started in the late 1970s, the local junior golf program has grown and evolved steadily with a number of new programs added within the last five or so years. The Gateway PGA works closely with the Catholic Youth Council with beginner and intermediate programs that are an ideal starting point for beginning players to learn the basic skills, rules and course etiquette from PGA professionals in clinics that lead to tournament play.

"We have a healthy mix of youngsters from all over the area who are learning the rules and mechanics of the game and then taking it to the next level in terms of competition," said Gateway PGA director of youth player development Gavin Hagar. "It's our belief that if you can get a junior player involved in competitive golf before or even during high school, there's a very good chance he or she will become a lifelong golfer."

Current PGA pro Scott Langley, a Parkway South High graduate who went on to win the 2010 NCAA Division I title while competing for the University of Illinois, is a product of the Gateway PGA youth program.

"He's the big success story," Hagar said. "But what's really rewarding for us is having our interns from the past come back during the summers to work with us and support the program that helped them."

Following are a few other key PGA Junior programs:

DRIVE, CHIP AND PUTT

An introductory and free nationwide program for players of all levels, Drive, Chip and Putt is a competition that involves each player hitting three drives, three chips and three putts and then having those scores combined. …

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