The sport comes with an air of affluence, no easy pass to excellence and the barrier to success is tall and established --- but on the other side of the uphill battle, no activity like the game of golf can have the same feeling of accomplishment.
Life, sometimes, works the same way.
For Frank Calvin, president of the Junior Golf Association of Arizona, the sport of golf is a perfect mechanism to teach young people the spirit of effort, attention to detail, and the value of a work ethic.
“Founded in 1983, the Junior Golf Association of Arizona is a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate, motivate, and inspire Arizona’s youth to become leaders in their communities and we utilize golf as a platform to do so,” Mr. Calvin said. “In addition to developing programs at schools and assisting Arizona golf courses with their junior programs, the JGAA conducts more than 100 programs and activities, including etiquette clinics, tournaments, and college prep seminars throughout Arizona each year.”
The Phoenix-based, Junior Golf Association of Arizona is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with headquarters at 10888 N. 19th Ave. in Phoenix.
Mr. Calvin explains the JGAA is taking a holistic approach to offer young residents of the Valley of the Sun a pathway to adulthood through the principles of a good golf game.
“The JGAA awards two scholarship funds annually to high school senior members of the JGAA for their college education --- the Tres Arnold and the John Wolfinger Memorial College Scholarships,” he explained of the scholarship efforts of the organization. “The JGAA’s strong belief in teamwork and cooperation continues to guide the organization and is instilled in all of its members.”
--- Frank Calvin
In recent history, the sport of golf and its patrons have been working to change the accessibility of the sport and the JGAA is a tool toward that end, Mr. Calvin points out.
“We are doing so much to make sure that any junior who wishes to participate and play golf has the opportunity to do so,” he said. “For example, our Youth on Course Arizona program offers subsidized rounds for juniors at more than 30 participating facilities so they can play golf for $5 or less. This program breaks down two barriers to this game --- accessibility and affordability.”
Make no mistake, Mr. Calvin points out, subsidizing golf rounds is a hard cost.
“This program is fully funded by the JGAA and we can do so because of the support of like-minded individuals and organizations including The Charro Foundation,” he said of community support from the Scottsdale Charros organization. “In addition to our Youth on Course Arizona Program we have a Financial Aid Assistance Fund that provides scholarship to families in need so that any junior who wants to participate can without the family incurring the financial burden.”
For 59 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.
Hard work, honor and integrity are valued virtues by both the golf community and the Scottsdale Charros.
“The mission of the JGAA helps create the future leaders of Arizona, providing a path toward higher education and a productive working life post-college,” said Scottsdale Charro George Getz. “In 2019 over 50 JGAA members were freshmen in college on a college golf scholarship. The JGAA provided the platform for these young golfers to hone their skills.”
--- George Getz
This current grant cycle, the Scottsdale Charros --- through The Charro Foundation --- provided the Junior Golf Association with a $5,000 grant to help fund the Youth on the Course program at JGAA.
Mr. Getz served as the Charro sponsor on the JGAA Charro grant application.
“Golf is a game that teaches many life skills, such as honesty, integrity, respect and sportsmanship,” he said of how the golf swing mirrors life’s ups and downs. “Golf is very difficult game and patience is another very important discipline. Junior golfers can take these skills and apply them in the college and their future professional lives.”
According to Mr. Getz, there is no better place than Arizona to learn how to swing a golf club.
“Arizona is a great place for golf as it can be played year round and there are so many great courses across the entire state,” he said.
“Golf has a huge economic impact in Arizona, providing many jobs and a great activity many visitors can enjoy on their trip to the Grand Canyon State. Arizona golf courses support the growth of local youth golf and the future of the game. Last year through Youth on Course the JGAA subsidized over 4,000 rounds of golf.”
Mr. Calvin contends the JGAA is an organization with firm beliefs that are taught and instilled in young people.
“We are firm believers that golf is a sport that offers the ability to practice and learn many life skills including honesty, integrity, and emotional control,” he said. “Learning how you manage yourself after making a double bogey helps you understand that when you get knocked down in life don’t dwell on it --- get back up --- stay focused and create an opportunity to bounce back.”
--- Frank Calvin
There is no right age to begin to learn the game, Mr. Calvin explains.
“The majority of our programming is for juniors between the ages of 8-18, but we encourage anyone interested in the game to visit their local PGA Professional and take a lesson,” he said.
"Working on the proper fundamentals will lead to greater success and more enjoyment of the sport. We have an annual event that exposes juniors ages 3-5 to what golf is, the basics of how to swing a club and we ‘build’ a fun short course in the park for them to play. This event is called the Itty Bitty Open and is ran cooperatively with city parks and rec departments at 20 different locations at parks across the Valley.”
Mr. Calvin says the No. 1 thing about the JGAA for parents of aspiring golfers is the organization is about education first --- competitive golf second.
“First and foremost, we want parents to know we are a safe, open, and experienced organization for all juniors who are interested in the game of golf,” he said.
“We don’t just run golf tournaments, we also offer educational opportunities about rules and etiquette, we host seminars and clinics to parents and juniors about the ins and outs of college golf, and we provide the ability for our student-athletes to volunteer and learn the importance of giving back to their communities.”
Go to jgaa.org.