By Peter Stilwell
The U.S. Kids Golf Foundation is relocating its Georgia-based, non-profit foundation to the Home of American Golf in the Village of Pinehurst, according to Dan Van Horn, founder and president of U.S. Kids Golf.
The golf equipment division of U.S. Kids Golf will continue to be headquartered in Georgia.
Pinehurst and the surrounding communities have been the host site for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship and World Teen Championship for the past 15 years. This prestigious series of championships for kids ages 5-18 has evolved into the world’s largest junior golf championship with an annual field of over 2,100 young golfers from around the world.
“We are very excited to relocate and continue to grow our U.S. Kids Golf Foundation in Pinehurst, which has been the home of our World Championship since 2006,” Van Horn said. “This move presents a wonderful opportunity to be part of the rich history and traditions that this community provides and will allow us the ability to further enhance our mission in growing the great game of golf.”
The U.S. Kids Golf Foundation was formed in 2001 to promote the game of golf to kids around the world and to provide competitive playing opportunities at local, state, national and international levels. Their mission “to help kids have fun learning the lifelong game of golf and encourage family interaction that builds lasting memories” gave birth to two distinct foundation initiatives: Play & Learn and Tournaments.
The U.S. Kids Golf foundation was the first youth golf organization to provide age and gender appropriate course yardage for kids’ golf competitions so that players beginning as early as 5 years old could make pars, birdies, eagles, and even hole-in-ones in tournament play. Additionally, U.S. Kids Golf Foundation mandated the use of caddies for players under 8 years old and encouraged caddies for older players as critical support for the development of young golfers. Parents are provided with the proper education and coaching techniques as they caddie for their kids.
Their U.S. Kids Golf Tournament Division conducts more than 1,600 golf tournaments annually around the world, including local events, state and regional championships, international championships, and its World Championships held annually in July and August on 13 different golf courses in the Pinehurst area. U.S. Kids Golf Foundation has more than 25,000 junior golfers as active tournament players.
The Foundation’s Play & Learn initiative, which focuses on providing the best practices for guiding parents to bring their kids into the game, has led to the development of the U.S. Kids Golf Coaches Institute. This multi-tiered division provides unique training and education opportunities for parents, golf instructors, coaches, and kids to learn and teach the game and to maximize the enjoyment the game of golf provides.
To help parents find kid-friendly coaches, the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation created the U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Award, recognizing the best coaches and teachers for their outstanding ability to teach the game to kids. Later, they developed a continuing education program for golf professionals to learn and share best practices on instruction that led to the U.S. Kids Golf Certified Coach program. Certified coaches learn to leverage their expertise by incorporating an understanding of club fitting, game-based learning methods, scaled yardages for on-course play and coaching parents on the best ways to engage and motivate their kids while playing golf.
In 2015, the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation purchased Longleaf Golf & Country Club as a “Living Laboratory” for best practices in how a semi-private club can bring more kids and families into the game. The club name was changed to Longleaf Golf & Family Club, and the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation established the first U.S. Golf Academy on the property. The academy currently serves over 600 players from the area and throughout the United States.
“Longleaf has been an outstanding addition to our foundation,” Van Horn said. “Our academy has been very successful in introducing golfers of all ages to the game of golf, and the Longleaf golf course has allowed us the opportunity to enhance our original forward tee program into the Longleaf Tee System. This system has revolutionized the scaling of golf courses and makes the game more enjoyable for players of all skill levels.”
“For the past 15 years, U.S. Kids Golf has generated millions of dollars for our local economy with their World Championships,” added Pat Corso, executive director of Moore County Economic Development. “The successes they have had with Longleaf and their academy presents an excellent model for other golf organizations and businesses to base their operation in our community.”
The future for the U.S. Kid Golf Foundation in Pinehurst is limitless. They will launch a new travel package division later this year, which will include family golf packages with area resorts and official family golf destinations throughout the United States. The Foundation is expanding its academies to multiple facilities around the country, and the U.S. Kids Golf Coaches Institute has certified more than 1,700 professional golfers and coaches from around the world.
“We couldn’t be happier to see the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation decide to relocate to the Home of American Golf,” said Phil Werz, president and CEO of the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Golf is the fabric and DNA of our community, and they will be welcomed with open arms by everyone. Their commitment to growing the game of golf is truly inspiring, and we look forward to making them feel at home in our globally-recognized golf destination.”
U.S. Kids Golf, LLC, is based in Atlanta and manufactures equipment and related golf products designed for kids. It was created in 1997 when Van Horn found that his children were losing interest in golf due to not having the proper equipment.
In addition to more than 4,000 golf shops and retail locations in the United States, the company’s products also are available in more than 75 countries worldwide.