Tiger Woods joined the PGA Tour when he was barely out of his teens. Italy’s Matteo Manassero had two professional golf wins before he turned 18. Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa became the youngest golfer to appear in the top 50 of 2009’s World Golf Rankings; he was 18. Twin sisters Naree and Aree Wongluekiet, 14 years old, of Thailand qualified for the 2000 LPGA Tour. At 14 years old, Andy Zhang is the youngest golfer to qualify for last summer’s US Open. Morgan Pressel qualified for the US Women’s Open at 12 years old. Young golfers are quick to attract the worldwide attention of golfers and non-golfers alike. These golf prodigies are few and far between compared to the number of golfers hitting the links these days. The National Golf Foundation reported that in 2008 there were 28.6 million golfers in the United States alone. But it is not just on the professional circuit and tournament rosters that kids and teens are making an appearance. Just look around North Myrtle Beach golf courses and throughout Myrtle Beach golf courses and you will see kids and teens on the golf scene.
The First Tee of the Grand Strand is a non-profit organization in the Myrtle Beach area that uses golf to cultivate character in local youth. The First Tee National School Program will be part of every physical education class in Horry and Georgetown Counties’ elementary schools. Additionally, after school and Saturday programs are offered where golf is used to teach life skills resulting in young students gaining confidence, improving their behavior and progressing with peer interaction while learning the disciplined game of golf.
On a national level the U.S. Kids Golf is an organization whose mission is to teach golf to kids in a fun manner so as to encourage family interaction. U.S. Kids Golf sponsors kids-only golf tournaments around the country for ages five to 14. These one-day tournaments are opportunities for boys and girls to compete against other kids their same age on either a 9-hole golf course or an 18-hole golf course. This past year, North Myrtle Beach golf course Eagle Nest Golf Club was host to several U.S. Kids Golf Local Tour events.