JAG golf: Getting ’em hooked (and sliced) while they’re young

ST. GEORGE — Kids tend to get bored during the long summer vacation, which can often lead to bad decisions and unhappy parents. But some parents have discovered that it’s hard for their kids to get in trouble when they’re on a golf course.

jagThe Junior Association of Golfers, or JAG, as its commonly known, is a program for young people ages 7-17 that offers cheap golf, instruction from professionals and competitive tournament throughout the year.

“We want to provide good opportunities for kids to golf, but also give them the fundamentals so they can play golf and enjoy it,” said Colby Cowan, who directs the program for the city of St. George. “We want them to be lifelong golfers. We always tell them this is something they can do from 6 to 96, with their parents, with their kids and with their grandkids.”

Pine View's Taylor Bandley with a chip, 3A State Girls Golf Championship Tournament, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Pine View’s Taylor Bandley is a JAG participant, file photo from 3A State Girls Golf Championship, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The program, which currently has nearly 500 participants, is $40 and offers $3 greens fees all summer, a t-shirt, a backpack, a summer pool party and access to 10 junior tournaments and five junior-parent tourneys, plus a rules and etiquette clinic.

“We want the kids to feel comfortable out on the course,” Cowan said. “This is a fun activity that promotes golf and getting outside and having a good time.”

The JAG program, which gives kids inexpensive access to Southgate, Sunbrook, St. George Golf Club and Dixie Red Hills, is also a good training program for future star golfers.

“The JAG program has been phenomenal for us,” said Desert Hills golf coach Laurie Dyer, moments after her team won its sixth straight 3A girls golf title. “These kids get golfing early on and get hooked on it. And we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of come through our high school program.”

Katie Perkins, who won her third straight gold medal for the Thunder last month, is a product of JAG. It took a playoff hole to win it this year and the foe she defeated on that extra hole, Taylor Bandley, is also a JAG participant.

Desert Hills' Katie Perkins after sinking her putt at the 18th hole, 3A State Girls Golf Championship Tournament, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Desert Hills’ Katie Perkins is a big proponent of JAG golf, file photo from 3A State Girls Golf Championship, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“Obviously Katie Perkins, who is going to play at UVU next year, is one of our high-profile players and she’s a great supporter of the program,” Cowan said. “Taylor Bandley is the front-runner for our golfer of the year in her age category this year and she will be successful where ever she decides to play after her senior year.”

Cowan also mentioned some other success stories from JAG, like pros Christian Jensen and Nick Killpack and current SUU golfer Nicole Thomas.

The JAG group just completed its second junior tournament, with Davis Heslington shooting a low score of 70 at the St. George Golf Club and Bandley with the top girls score of 74.

The next juniors tourney is Tuesday at Sunbrook, with the next junior-parent tourney Jun. 18 at Southgate.

To register for JAG and the individual tournaments, got to stgeorgecitygolf.com.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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