By Jaxie Pidgeon, Communications Intern
For golf aficionados, hitting the links on a gorgeous summer
day is as good as it gets: the smell of freshly cut grass, the welcome sight of
an open fairway and the feeling of a tailwind coming in strong behind you. But,
for many, the sport also can be a financial obstacle.
Fortunately, Youth on Course (YOC), one of the newer initiatives
of the TGA Foundation, is making the game more accessible and affordable. YOC enables
youngsters of all backgrounds to step up to the tee box. YOC, a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization, was founded in 2006 by the Northern California Golf
Association (NCGA). The TGA Foundation launched its YOC program in January in
San Antonio and offered membership to juniors, ages 6-18, for just $20 per year.
The cost-efficient membership includes access to play at participating golf
courses for $5 or less.
From the start, the eight courses that make up the Alamo
City Golf Trail in San Antonio – Mission
Del Lago Golf Course, Riverside Golf Club, Willow Springs Golf Course,
Brackenridge Park Golf Course, Olmos Basin Golf Course, Northern Hills Golf
Club, Cedar Creek Golf Course and San Pedro Driving Range – have participated
in the program. The program has been steadily growing in popularity in the San
Antonio area and currently includes 64 active members who have played more than
170 rounds of golf.
Recently, the TGA announced a new alliance with the U.S.
military that has paved the way for the addition of three historic military
base courses to YOC in San Antonio. Fort Sam Houston Golf Club, established in
1929, Gateway Hills Golf Club, established in 1946, and Randolph Oaks Golf
Course, established in 1950, bring the total to 11 courses participating in the
program in the San Antonio area.
Dave Roberts, director of player development for Air Force
Golf, was instrumental in getting the military base courses added to YOC. He’s a
proponent of adding more across the country. A 30-year golf industry veteran, Roberts
said that being able to offer $5 green fees allows more kids to be able to
learn the sport and gain important life skills such as honor, integrity and
“The biggest stigma is ‘golf costs too much,’” Roberts said.
“We are so keyed in on the senior guys and the weekend guys who pay the big
dollars to go play and we forget about the others. Youth on Course is a way to
rebrand junior golf.”
Roberts underscored the importance of how the program keeps
youngsters engaged in a positive way.
“Golf reflects life,” Roberts said. “What you put into it is
what you are going to get out of it, so if you want it, you got to go out there
and get it.”
Thinking back on his own experiences as a child, Roberts
said that the game of golf helps keep kids on the right track.
“The more you are on the course, the less trouble you get
in,” Roberts said. “It saved me. I mean, my parents would drop me off, I’d stay
there all day, and they would pick me up when they got off of work. No need for
Contrary to popular belief, most military base golf courses
can be enjoyed by members of the public after a security screening. According
to the National Golf Foundation, the various branches of the U.S. armed forces
operate more than 120 golf courses in the United States. Its database shows
there are military courses in 39 U.S. states, with eight of them being in
Roberts said the three San Antonio military base courses are
run by successful golf managers and have a strong teaching staff that the YOC
members can benefit from. He noted that many of the nation’s military golf
courses were designed by top-tier architects like Pete Dye, Robert Trent Jones
Sr. and A.W. Tillinghast. Fort Sam Houston Golf Club, one of the new YOC
additions, is a Tillinghast-designed course.
“These courses are not normally played by outsiders,”
Roberts said. “We are now opening our doors to the public with waivers. So, not
only does a military dependent get to play, now outside Joe Public gets to
Since its founding in 2006, YOC has gained momentum
nationally by partnering with state and regional golf associations. Today, the
program is offered in 34 regions and has subsidized more than 900,000 rounds of
“As operators of golf courses, we have to understand that
these kids aren’t going to come to us, we have to have a program for them,”
Roberts said. “The youth is our future.”
To learn more about Youth on Course, click