Schedule change leads to spike in Wichita's Hook A Kid On Golf program

Schedule change leads to spike in Wichita's Hook A Kid On Golf program

5/4/2018

The Wichita Public Golf Courses’ mission is to increase awareness of golf in the community, particularly among the youth. With the Hook A Kid On Golf program already established within the community, there was a desire to expand the program so the kids who were already involved would have more opportunities to continue playing golf year-round.

“We had already discussed moving the program to before June, so the juniors would have the opportunity to use their new golf clubs in the programs that were being offered May-August,” said Shana Appelhanz, assistant golf manager for the Wichita Public Golf Courses. “Also, we wanted them to be able to enjoy playing golf during the summer with parents, grandparents or friends. It was a challenge trying to find a time in April or May that would work, but then we noticed multiple school districts throughout the Wichita area all scheduled spring break during the same week in March, so that made the decision a no brainer; we knew that’s when we had to do it!”

Since making the scheduling switch to earlier in the year, Wichita Public Golf Courses has seen higher participation numbers in their Hook A Kid On Golf program.

“Our registration numbers have doubled,” Appelhanz said. “Sticking with the new schedule will enable us to offer two programs during spring break week in 2019. We will have an AM session from 10 to noon; and a PM session from 2 to 4. This will allow us to double our registration again for a second year in a row.”

When Wichita Public Golf Courses first offered the Hook A Kid On Golf program, only four courses were involved and only 14 kids could sign up per course; and there was no charge thanks to a grant they had received. When the grants were no longer available in 2015, they started charging a small registration fee and held two fundraiser tournaments to offset the costs.

“Our program has grown immensely since then,” said Appelhanz. “In 2018, we offered the program at five golf courses, and ended up with 78 junior golfers. Two of our golfers were accepted on full scholarships.”

With community a high priority, the staff believes in reaching out to the younger generation because they are the key to growing the game.  

“This year, we have seen a huge demand in our community for junior golf,” Appelhanz said. “All of our programs have filled, and our adult programs are filling up, too. We believe a big factor in this was the Hook A Kid On Golf program and moving it to the beginning of the season. If the kids are playing golf, then there is more of a chance for the rest of the family to get interested. There is a big interest from parents to get their children enrolled in this program due to everything that is offered, and it is helping bring awareness to all of our other programs.”

Hook A Kid On Golf strives to provide communities with a comprehensive youth golf program that eliminates all the obstacles that discourage youngsters from learning and continuing to play golf while also instilling in them an understanding of golf's rules, etiquette and history.

“This program is a great way to grow the game of golf,” Appelhanz said. “Golf is a sport that you can play for a lifetime and it also teaches life skills. Plus, I think it is very cathartic for the golf professionals. Every golf pro talked about how nice it was to spend quality time with each of the kids and how much they enjoyed starting their season off with this program. It energized them for the peak season here in Wichita. I’m most proud of our golf professionals who donate their time to offer the instruction without compensation. We do not see any revenue from the program. All money that is raised goes to pay for the equipment and scholarships. For us it truly is about getting more children in our community to play golf.”

As the program numbers continue to climb, so do the success stories of children being hooked on the game. 

“We love talking to the parents and hearing the stories their kids tell them each day,” Appelhanz said. “The parents could not believe their kids were taking home a new set of clubs. So many of them commented that their children wanted to continue on with golf, which was music to my ears! I’ve really enjoyed taking photos of the juniors when they are practicing and out playing, then posting the album to Facebook for their parents to see. It’s really cool to read their comments and see them sharing the photos with their friends. It is very rewarding.”

Hook A Kid On Golf Wichita Life Skills Golf Fun

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