U.S. Kids Golf, LLC was started in 1996 to solve the problem its founder, Dan Van Horn, experienced when getting his sons, ages 5 and 8, into golf. "They were enthusiastic at first, but their interest quickly dropped. They weren't having fun," Van Horn recalls. "At the time, I didn't realize that cutoffs and junior clubs were too heavy; they were not only hurting my kids' swings but also their desire to play."
That's when the former golf professional and engineer began developing Ultralight kids clubs, which were designed to be 25% lighter than adult and most junior clubs. Van Horn soon started U.S. Kids Golf, a company dedicated to making golf easier for kids to learn and enjoy. Since then, parents and golf professionals worldwide have seen the incredible difference that lightweight and correctly fit clubs have made in their young player's swing and enthusiasm for the game. Today, the company is the world's leading provider of equipment and services for young players.
EQUIPMENT AND PRODUCTS
U.S. Kids Golf offers eleven sizes and three models of clubs, with all players fit by height and skill instead of age. Hats, shirts, gloves, balls, and other golf-related accessories are also designed specifically for young players.
Learning a good grip is most important in developing a smooth, natural swing. Add to this an oversized but extremely lightweight head with a more flexible shaft, and you have the perfect club for beginners to swing at home or on the range. We call it the Yard Club. Features of our Yard Club include a molded grip that teaches proper hand placement, an oversized head with a pitching wedge loft to help get the ball in the air and a flexible, lightweight shaft that adds height and distance to those swings. Yard Club can make learning and developing easier, more fun, and more permanent. Perfect for use with included foam balls in the yard, or it can be used when training with actual golf balls at the range or course.
Since 1997, Ultralight has been the industry standard for beginners’ youth golf equipment. While other manufacturers offer a few sizes with a wide range of ages, U.S. Kids Golf offers nine sizes of Ultralight clubs, each specially designed for players within a height range of just three inches. Players develop faster clubhead speeds because these are up to 30 percent lighter than adult clubs. Shaft flexes are built for the specific club lengths, and grips are made to fit the players' hands. The result of our engineering is a line of equipment that will encourage better swings, more fun, and hopefully, a lifetime enjoying golf.
Tour Series Clubs
When a young golfer is no longer a beginner and needs equipment that offers more technology, Tour Series is our answer. Since its introduction in 2007, Tour Series quickly became the number one choice of competitive players, ages 12 and under, at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. Why, might you ask? Performance. The ball goes farther with more accuracy because the heads are 5% heavier than those in the Ultralight system, and the shafts are correspondingly more stiff. Tour Series quality is the same as many adult leading brands. Each size is designed and manufactured to provide a perfect fit by customizing every aspect of each club, including length, driver loft and volume, club head weight, shaft weight, frequency, flex with a low kick point, grip size, and lie angle. Tour Series equipment helps young golfers play their best, which is why the best players play Tour Series.
The U.S. KIDS GOLF FOUNDATION
In 2000, recognizing the need for both junior coaching programs and competitions to be scaled for the needs of young players, two critical initiatives were started to help fulfill the U.S. Kids Golf mission: Play & Learn and Tournaments. With the launch of just one event that year, the first World Championship held in Jekyll Island, GA, immediate success was achieved, spurring the formation of a separate non-profit corporation in 2001, the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation. Today, the Foundation continues its operations as a recognized 501 (c)(3) public charity.
Play and Learn – U.S. Kids Golf Coaches Institute
After purchasing equipment, parents often immediately recognize that courses are not designed for the skills of their young players and that they also need more information and guidance to help them learn the game. At the first World Championship, the concept of playing shorter Forward Tees was introduced. Kids found greater enjoyment playing from a location where pars, birdies, and even eagles were attainable at an early age. This concept evolved and became known as the U.S. Kids Golf Family Tee program, leading to a partnership with PGA of America. Ultimately, as the idea grew and inhabited more courses, it became known as the Longleaf Tee System. Hundreds of courses in the United States and abroad have established Forward Tee locations to provide kids and families a suitable way to play the same course together. When the forward tee program was introduced, a kid-friendly curriculum booklet with three levels and an included merit pin awards program began. Now known as the U.S. Kids Golf Player Pathway, this simple curriculum helps provide the young player and their parents a road map for learning the game with the help of their coach. The Player Pathway has evolved to now include ten levels, and once players reach level 10, they can shoot even par scores.
In 2004, to provide recognition for those coaches doing exemplary work in training kids and to help parents find kid-friendly coaches, the U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 award was conceived. Yearly, at the PGA of America Merchandise Show, coaches are recognized for their outstanding ability to teach the game to kids. Those receiving the award three times become Master Kids Coaches. So far, over 200 Master Kids Coaches have been recognized, and hundreds more Top 50 coaches have been selected one or more times.
In 2013, recognizing a vast gap in training for golf coaches and to help fulfill its mission, U.S. Kids Golf began offering a continuing education program to assist golf professionals in structuring and conducting their youth golf programs. Early that year, the U.S. Kids Golf Certified Coach accreditation program was launched. Participants complete day-long training and must pass required testing from U.S. Kids Golf and the Positive Coaching Alliance. To date, over 6,000 coaches from more than 70 nations have participated in the training either in-person or online.
Longleaf Golf & Country Club, Southern Pines, NC.
In 2015, the Foundation took its mission to heart and purchased the Longleaf Golf & Country Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina. "We are treating this as a living laboratory for growing kids and family golf in a club environment," said U.S. Kids Golf President Dan Van Horn. "Our goal is to implement best practices in a real-life situation." The club has proven to be an ideal location for families, featuring a state-of-the-art academy building and seven tee locations from 3200 yards up to 6800 yards. To reflect U.S. Kids Golf's philosophy, the name was changed to Longleaf Golf & Family Club.
U.S. Kids Golf hosts more than 1,600 events worldwide each year, making us the largest golf tournament organization in the world. Players compete in each event in separate age and gender divisions.
Additionally, the U.S. Kids Golf tournaments were the first to encourage parent participation by having Mom or Dad caddie for the young player. Initially seen as radical when first introduced, this concept has become an important and distinguishing hallmark of U.S. Kids Golf events. Today, many junior golf tournaments worldwide have adopted similar practices.
Today, with more than 1,600 tournaments organized yearly in 85 markets, players, ages 5 to 14, learn to compete in their local community and then advance to State, Regional, and World Championships. Local Tours are designed for the beginning competitive golfer, as each event provides a fun environment where kids can develop their skills. Two-day events like our State Invitational tournaments and Regional Championships are ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard and are the next step for competitive junior golfers. At each level, players may earn Priority Status to enter more challenging events./p>
In 2008, our flagship international event, the European Championship, was started in East Lothian, Scotland, where over 600 participants gather from 40 countries each year. Since then, we have added over 15 International multi-day events and over 45 International Local Tours. International Championship events include Venice Open (Italy), South American Championship (Brazil), and the Caribbean Championship in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic).
The Short Game – a Netflix original full-length documentary
In 2011, the Tournaments division was approached about allowing access to an independent film company desiring to tell the story of the World Championship. The film focused on eight players, boys and girls ages 7-8, as they prepared to play in the 2012 World Championship at Pinehurst. The award-winning film is a great inspiration for young athletes, regardless of their sport, and is highly recommended by film critics and audiences. It is available on Netflix or can be purchased on DVD.
Positive Coaching Alliance Partnership
To help parents in the process of making youth sports in general, and golf specifically, a positive experience for their children, in 2009, U.S. Kids Golf began a partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance. This program has been instrumental in helping players, coaches, and parents realize that all sports are opportunities to learn how to become a winner on the field, or golf course, and in life. Parents are encouraged to take PCA's Second-Goal Parent course, while coaches wishing to become certified must complete Double-Goal Coach training as a requirement.
U.S. Kids Golf was started as a family business desiring to stay true to the mission and purpose of bringing kids into the game. The Foundation was formed because providing the right equipment needed to be coupled with improved programs, coaching, and opportunity for competition, like other organized sports.
The vision of families spending time together outdoors and playing golf is our true passion, and many people throughout the golf industry have joined us in our efforts. We are thankful for their role in giving kids the lifelong game of golf.