In an effort to get more kids involved in the sport, Hood River’s Indian Creek Golf Course has formed a youth team to participate in the nation-wide PGA Jr. League Golf program. The program is open to players ages 8-13 and is run similar to Little League baseball and softball, with contests held between teams based from neighboring courses. Mark Gradin, Indian Creek’s director of Instruction and Player Development, says the Hood River team currently has a full team of 16 players, but if he can recruit more kids he’ll gladly form a second team.
“We’re trying to recruit as many kids as we can to participate in the program,” said Gradin, who served this spring as the Hood River Valley High School head golf coach. “We’re also trying to establish more teams from around the area so we can have a local league to compete in.”
In addition to simply providing positive youth experiences, Gradin said one underlying goal of the program is to generate more interest in the sport to younger generations, and to cultivate better golfers who will hopefully feed into the high school program, which has suffered from dwindling numbers in recent years.
There are already plenty of Jr. League teams in the Portland area, which the Indian Creek team will compete against until enough teams exist to form a Gorge Jr. League. A team from The Dalles was also recently formed; Hood River and The Dalles faced off Monday afternoon at Indian Creek for their first match against one another. Contests are played in two-person, nine-hole scramble format.
“Kids play nine holes, and every three holes teams are allowed to sub players in and out,” Gradin explained. “This allows everyone to have a chance to play, and the scramble format lends itself well for this level of player.”
Gradin said several local businesses (listed below) have stepped-up to sponsor kids on the team by paying camp fees for Indian Creek’s summer junior golf skills camps, which will help prepare players for league contests. Beyond that, league fees for the season are $75, which includes team uniforms, balls, scorecards and more.
For more information about joining the team or Indian Creek’s summer-long series of junior golf camps, contact Gradin at the Indian Creek Pro Shop at 541-386-7770.
Sponsoring businesses for this year’s team are as follows: Duckwall Fruit, All Animal Care Clinic, Reed and Reed Inc., C&D Orchards, Country Fair, Thompson Orchards, Dairy Queen, E&L Auto Parts, Indian Creek Golf Course, Ron Rivers Orchard, Morgan Paint, Indian Creek Men’s Golf Association, Hood River Sports Club and Papa Murphy’s Pizza.