Bluffton’s Pinecrest PGA Junior League of summer 2022. CHRISTINE JOHNSON

Even though golf is usually considered an individual sport, the PGA Junior League has more than 60,000 kids playing on teams nationwide. The PGA Junior League provides a safe, caring and organized environment for all kids to enjoy golf.

Kids are a part of a local team that consists of anywhere from four or more players. The kids receive jerseys and hats and have weekly sessions. Each team is a part of a league that has a schedule of games played at different sites, and league standings are kept.

Bluffton has four teams in the 13 and under league: Pinecrest, Moss Creek, Hampton Hall and Oldfield. Winners from this league can go on to sectional competition, state competition and a chance to compete on a national level.

The Pinecrest team is coached by PGA professional David LaPour, who has a great background in teaching golf, especially with junior golfers. LaPour believes in “fun first.”

He is passionate about getting the kids outside and away from their screens. There is classroom training, athleticism, working on self-esteem and finally playing golf. They have weekly clinics, using the American Developmental Model that tells the coach what they should be doing with certain age groups.

LaPour’s program has received top recognition in the Carolinas PGA. LaPour conducts Saturday clinics for juniors. Contact him at dl@davidlapourgolf.com.

All league games are played in a two-person scramble format. Both players hit their first shot and the best ball is selected. This process continues until the ball is holed. There are three 3-hole matches. If a team wins a match, they capture a flag. When they capture three flags, they earn three points.

The kids play on a shortened course, with 250-yard par 5, 150-yard par 4 and a 100-yard par 3.

The young golfers learn etiquette, sportsmanship and teamwork. The purpose of the league is to have fun with their friends. At the same time, they are expected to demonstrate sportsmanship, teamwork and a positive attitude. They must be respectful of coaches, fellow players and spectators. They also learn how to be respectful of the course by replacing divots and raking the bunkers.

One of the most important aspects of the league is parent and spectator conduct.

Parents are encouraged to cheer, have fun and be supportive of all players. They agree to refrain from having any contact during the competition.

Parents agree to abstain from caddying, and to not argue with other spectators, players or coaches.

This is most helpful to the kids – to enable them to not be worried about anything but playing golf.

PGA Junior League is a great way to get your children involved in golf. For more information visit pgajuniorleague.com.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris@gmail.com; golfdoctorjean.com