Take A Kid To The Course Program Keeps Growing

By BRAD ZIEMER, British Columbia Golf

It is a grow-the-game initiative that just keeps growing.

The 17th annual Take a Kid to the Course Week runs July 2-9 and once again the list of participating courses is growing and so is the number of kids taking advantage of the free golf offer.

The promotion, which allows a child under the age of 16 a free round of golf with an adult who pays a green fee, is sponsored by the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada.

“It is absolutely one of our most important grow-the-game initiatives,” says Erica Beck, regional director of NGCOA Canada’s British Columbia and Alberta chapters.

“We have been doing it for 17 years and every year it just keeps growing and growing. And there has been a huge uptick in sponsorship for the program the last few years, so it is something we are definitely hoping to keep going for many years to come.”

A couple of the keys to running almost any successful business are serving your customers well and devoting considerable time and energy into developing new ones. Golf courses are no different.

Baby-boomers are into golf in a big way, but that generation is aging and it’s never been more important for golf courses to develop new players.

The Take a 'Kid to the Course Week' initiative is one way of getting children out onto the course. The hope is some of them will take up the game, perhaps enroll in a junior program at a course near their home and become players for life. The NGCOA also sees the program being something of a family day promotion. Most of the kids who come out to take advantage of the program are visiting the golf course with their parents, grandparents or other relatives.

“The kids are out of school and this is a good way for families to get out and play together,” Beck says. “And that is how we are encouraging it, to be a family day to get out on the course early in the summer and play as a family and hopefully encourage them to come back throughout the rest of the summer break and the rest of the year.”

The Take a Kid to the Course promotion seems to be particularly popular in both B.C. and Alberta. In 2018, B.C. had 135 courses signed up for the program, while 101 courses in Alberta participated. Beck expects more than 700 courses across the country will be involved this year.

Last year, there were 173,817 participants (a blend of juniors and adults) in the program. That’s nearly triple the 63,000 that participated in 2015. Beck credits the growth to golf courses buying into the program. “The golf courses have become much more engaged in the program,” she says “Some golf courses run it for the first week. Some are opting to run it for the entire month of July and some right through the summertime.”

In addition to free golf, many courses offer additional programs such as junior clinics, free range balls and free junior club rentals. Participants can also register to win some great prizes. Eight full sets of junior clubs will be given away, as well as an adult TaylorMade golf package and four all-inclusive hotel packages to Cuba (airfare not included).

A list of participating courses and more information on the program can be found at kidsgolffree.ca.