Washington Golf, in collaboration with Youth on Course, the non-profit organization dedicated to opening doors, supporting dreams and transforming the lives of young people through opportunities on and off the golf course, has experienced a significant rise in junior golf member participation in 2022 and into 2023.
Youth on Course membership in Washington and Northern Idaho has seen its numbers grow to 7,884 in 2022, which is an increase of 14% over 2021’s membership numbers, and an astounding increase from the 300 members during the program’s inaugural year in 2016.
These members now have access to nearly 60 golf courses across the state, where green fees start at just $5 with a WA Golf Youth on Course membership. The participating course is later reimbursed by WA Golf for any lost revenue, though some courses don’t seek to be recompensed, as their way of contributing to the growth of the game.
An annual Youth on Course membership costs just $20 and is available to juniors aged 6-18. Notable participating courses include Chambers Bay, Snohomish GC, and The Home Course.
“We are proud to have grown the WA Golf YOC membership to over 7,800 junior golfers and nearly 60 golf facilities in Washington and Northern Idaho,” said Torrin Westwood, WA Golf assistant director of club relations, who serves as the liaison for WA Golf and the participating facilities. “We look forward to providing more opportunities and access for families in the coming years, and we thank all of our members and facilities for their support.”
Committed to making the game more appealing and accessible to nurture the next generation of lifelong players and lovers of the game, Youth on Course has been an unqualified success.
Nationally, Youth on Course has recently reached notable milestones, including over 2.5 million rounds of golf subsidized by golf associations, over 140,000 junior members, nearly 2,000 participating golf facilities, $8 million saved by families in green fees, and $2 million in scholarships awarded.
Fueling the golf industry in Washington and Northern Idaho, the structure of WA Golf Youth on Course helps golf courses fill typically unused tee times and garner additional revenue, with more than 40% of YOC members playing with paying adults.
Youth on Course was born in 2006 at the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA) headquarters in Monterey, Calif. By 2013, Youth on Couse had become so popular in Northern California, other state junior golf organizations were becoming interested, eventually making its way to Washington.
“We began looking into junior development programs in 2014, and though we recognized there were several very good programs that already existed in Washington, we realized a need for our state golf association to offer something,” says Shari Jacobson, WA Golf’s head of operations and director of membership and club relations. “Knowing that the cost of golf is a deterrent for kids, we were particularly interested in finding something that could help provide affordable access to golf. We became aware of Youth on Course and contacted the NCGA in the fall of 2015 in hopes of learning more about the program.”
Jacobson says she was extremely impressed with the program and was determined to establish YOC in her home state. “First we met with several junior programs in the state to make sure we weren’t treading on any toes,” she says. “And we sought ways that our programs could potentially complement each other.”
WA Golf began signing youths up and subsidizing golf in June 2016, and a little over 300 juniors signed up for the program that year.
By the end of 2022, that number had grown to 7,884, and it has become obvious that the program has filled a very large need, not only for the game, but also for kids and families on and off the course.
“We wanted to have a deeper impact on the junior golf population of Washington, and seeing the success that Youth on Course is having in our region and across the U.S., it’s obvious that the program is a game-changer for the industry,” says WA Golf CEO/Executive Director Troy Andrew. “Growing the game and diversifying its participants have always been goals of the association, and WA Golf YOC is a perfect fit for helping us achieve both objectives.”
Currently there are nearly 60 courses in Washington and Northern Idaho that are participating in the WA Golf Youth on Course program. Nearly 2,000 courses across the U.S. are also participating, and young golfers in the WA Golf program have access to those courses as well.
Visit wagolf.org/yoc for more information.
About Youth on Course
The core purpose of Youth on Course is to help young people grow and succeed both on and off the course by providing opportunities to play, learn, grow, and build relationships through affordable access to play. Members age 6-18 can play nearly 2,000 participating courses across the U.S. – and nearly 60 courses in Washington and Northern Idaho – for $5 or less, benefit from career opportunities through the caddie and internship program and receive college scholarships. Headquartered in Monterey, Calif., Youth on Course is a 501c3 non-profit organization that began as the charitable arm of the Northern California Golf Association. Since 2006, more than 2.5 million rounds have been played by Youth on Course members and nearly $2 million has been awarded in college scholarships. Visit youthoncourse.org for more information.