Click HERE to watch a short preview of “PGA Jr. League: Join the Team!
Click HERE for PGA Jr. League photos courtesy of the PGA of America
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (April 24, 2019) – CBS Sports will air an hour-long special Saturday, April 27, at 1 p.m. CDT, spotlighting PGA Jr. League and stories of its players and coaches. The team-oriented golf program brings boys and girls together in a fun and inclusive environment, with expert coaching from PGA and LPGA Professionals.
Hosted by CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis, “PGA Jr. League: Join the Team!” will feature stories ranging from local PGA and LPGA Professional coaches making a difference in their communities…to heartwarming stories of young players…to PGA Tour superstars whose lives have been touched by PGA Jr. League players.
PGA Jr. League Ambassador Rory McIlroy is featured through his special connection to PGA Jr. League player Traden Karch, 16, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Traden suffered a life-threatening injury following a car accident and has leaned on his love of golf and PGA Jr. League team throughout his recovery.
“We’re thrilled to showcase to a national audience how PGA Jr. League is designed for every child, everywhere to fall in love with the game of golf,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley, PGA/LPGA, whose experience as a PGA Jr. League coach will be featured in the special. “I am extremely passionate about PGA Jr. League, as its positive impact transcends the game to benefit families nationwide. PGA Jr. League is opening doors for both girls and boys to play and love the game of golf.”
Alongside Whaley, PGA Professionals Cameron Milton, PGA; Chuck Higgins, PGA; and Jason Witczak, PGA, will also be featured for their inclusive PGA Jr. League programs. Milton, Higgins and Witczak show that coaching in this team-based atmosphere can change lives for the better.
Through PGA Jr. League, kids learn and play golf in a co-ed team environment, wear numbered jerseys, and utilize a scramble format for competition. PGA Jr. League is divided into two age divisions: 13-and-under (13u) and 17-and-under (17u). Last year, a record of more than 50,000 boys and girls played on 4,200 teams nationwide, a nearly 20% increase in participation from 2017.
Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie, Rickie Fowler, Lexi Thompson—and most recently Stephen Curry and Alex Morgan—are official PGA Jr. League Ambassadors, for their commitment to growing youth golf. Two stories in the broadcast feature McIlroy and Fowler, who have formed friendships with and become role models for Oklahoma-based PGA Jr. League players, Traden Karch and Jhett Skaggs. Both boys have recovered from serious medical issues to return to the game they love. Skaggs was introduced to PGA Jr. League by his coach, Aurora Kirchner-McClain, PGA/LPGA, while living in Houston.
PGA Jr. League is the flagship youth pillar program of PGA REACH, the PGA of America’s 501 (c)(3) foundation. Through PGA REACH’s partnership with DICK’S Sporting Goods Sports Matter Foundation, scholarships are available to players of participating facilities who meet financial need requirements or are from an active military family. PGA Professionals Henry Stetina and Daniel Duchene will be spotlighted for their work reaching into the community and bringing kids to the course through these scholarships. To date, nearly 2,200 scholarships have been provided to boys and girls nationwide.
While the emphasis of PGA Jr. League is on its recreational seasons, the PGA Jr. League Postseason presented by National Car Rental provides a fun and aspirational environment for the program’s competitive golfers. PGA Professional John Mason and Jackie DeWald-Mason led their San Diego-based All-Star team to victory at both the 2015 and 2018 PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental.
In addition, two PGA Jr. League alumni who have reached great heights in the competitive golf world –– 2017-’18 Boys Junior PGA Champion Akshay Bhatia and 2018 Girls Junior PGA Champion Yealimi Noh –– discuss how PGA Jr. League set them up for success. Bhatia and Noh were members of the victorious 2018 United States Junior Ryder Cup Team in Paris, and they both have a goal of playing professional golf.
Registration for PGA Jr. League is ongoing. For more information and to find a local team, visit pgajrleague.com.