On a recent visit to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, I had the opportunity to visit the Junior Players Golf Academy (JPGA) and sit down with Keith Bach, the President/Director of Programs and a PGA Class A Member. In its 11th year, the Junior Players Golf Academy has established itself as one of the top schools in the academy industry with a highly-regarded academic and golf program. JPGA is a boutique academy with the primary mission of nurturing students (12 years and up), athletically and academically, so they can pursue their dream of being a successful college golfer with a scholarship to a four-year university. With the growth of the game of golf coming from the youth, schools like JPGA are essential to keeping the youngsters involved and teaching them the proper method of playing the game, something that was not available for past generations.
Keith says, “we have a maximum 4 to 1, students to teacher ratio with a more personalized approach which separates us from other academies.”
While I was in the headquarters, I witnessed students studying in the offices, one being tutored on history, and yet another in the fitness center working on different aspects of strength training. Bach continued, “We pride ourselves on creating well rounded students who excel both on and off the course. We hope to enrich their lives whether or not they want to pursue golf as a profession.”
A very experienced and patient staff strives to insure students know the step-by-step process of how to take ownership of their golf game and reach their individual goals. Instead of teaching a “one swing method,” JPGA instructors work with each student to incorporate proven common denominators of the world’s best players into their total game.
Proper physical and mental training is also incorporated into the JPGA program, as that is a big part of any junior golfer’s progression. Keith believes that first turning a young golfer into an athlete accelerates the process of improvement. Physical training takes place four days a week, after golf practice, and follows the Titlist Performance Institute’s model of success. Students attend school during the morning, after lunch coaches supervise a weekly training program on all aspects of the game along with V1 video analysis and Trackman sessions.
The Hilton Head Preparatory School(HHP) has partnered with the JPGA to accept students who qualify for entrance into their institution, which provides a quality learning environment. 100% of the students who attend HHP are accepted to college. The Port Royal Golf Club serves as the training base for the JPGA with 8,000 square foot putting green, large driving range, separate short game area and 54 holes of championship golf, plus another 27 holes at Shipyard Golf Club and 18 at Oyster Reef Golf Club, all managed by the Heritage Golf Group.
What impressed me the most were the facilities on Hilton Head Island and Bach’s plans for the future. We all know when the environment is right, the learning will be improved. The JPGA’s office and 5,000 square foot fitness and training center is set on a lovely campus away from the hustle and bustle of the main thoroughfares on the Island. The housing for the students, known as the Mitchellville Golf Cottages, consists of six 4-bedroom, 4 and a half bath houses in an intimate gated community, enhanced by moss covered 100 year-old live oak trees. I wouldn’t mind living there. Each cottage has “house parents” who live in each residence and prepare daily home-cooked meals for the students, a sure-fire recipe for success that is not offered at many other academies. Keith has plans for a new academy building next to Mitchellville with room for additional cottages.
Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge in Orlando, Florida is the second location for the # 1 Golf Academy in the South, the Junior Players Golf Academy.
Young golfers attending JPGA who come to Orlando will train at the best and “Largest Driving Range in the Nation”, which is one mile in circumference. The Orange County Golf Center has a 22,000 square foot putting green, multiple chipping and pitching greens, two championship golf courses in Panther Lake and Crooked Cat, and one of the finest short courses in the nation-“The Tooth.” That is 42 acres of training space.
The Orlando JPGA students matriculate at Windermere Preparatory School, an International Baccalaureate World School, dedicated to providing students with rich opportunities for intellectual, emotional and social growth, located on a beautiful 48-acre campus. They live in 4-5 bedroom homes in the Windermere residential area of Orange County, a very safe environment, close to both the JPGA and Windermere schools. The house parent prepares breakfast and dinner for them every day, shuttles them to and from school and makes sure they are taking care of their studies.
If you have a young child looking to set his or her goals on playing golf at a higher level and hoping to earn an education with a golf scholarship, you should definitely take a long look at Junior Players Golf Academy. You will not be disappointed. For more information go to JRPGA.com or call 843-686-3355.