Romeoville, IL – The golf industry – with help from programs like PGA Junior League, TGA Premier Golf, Youth on Course, Drive, Chip and Putt, and First Tee – is in its best position in decades in regard to growing the game and increasing youth participation.
Mistwood Golf Club and McQ’s Golf Dome in Chicago are fully engaged with the youth movement through their Competitive Golfer Program (CGP) and Committed Athlete Program (CAP). Both year-round programs aim to grow the competitive junior player. The CGP enables young athletes to have fun while acquiring the necessary fundamentals and skills required to improve and excel in the sport. Participation in the CGP also provides a developmental pathway into the nationally recognized CAP, which is by invitation only.
Seasonal changes in the Midwest do not deter the commitments of juniors involved in the programs. Winter only means a change in scenery moving to the indoor facilities at McQ’s Golf Dome in Bolingbrook, acquired by Mistwood Golf Club owner Jim McWethy in 2012. The 60,000-square foot facility with 40 heated bays, multiple short game areas and swing technology like V1 and Trackman was recently recognized by the Golf Range Association of America as a 2017 Top 50 Range in the stand-alone category. The combination of McQ’s facilities with the CGP and CAP programs has helped produce one of the leading competitive junior golf development programs in the country.
The CAP program was started in 2012 by Mike Baldwin with a focus on elite area high school players. The goal was to develop their talents to the next level creating a structured pathway to playing college golf. In 2014, Brian Brodell, a former golf coach and recruiting specialist for Purdue University and University of Wisconsin transitioned into its Director of Junior Development. With a greater need to broaden the junior golf impact, the CGP program was created to include golfers of younger ages looking to enhance their competitive spirit with the CGP program. Since then, these programs have evolved into top golf programs for juniors headed by Brodell with the goal of providing the knowledge and insight that is beneficial to the kids and their parents.
“As a former college golf coach, I have a solid understanding of what coaches are looking for in a player when it comes to the recruiting process,” Brodell explained. “With that said, I help players and families with the recruiting process and try to point them in the right direction and answer all their questions.”
Brodell said with juniors going through CGP and moving on to CAP they learn to practice with a plan, how to improve and then get the most out of their work.
“We try to be up front and honest so parents and players truly know what it takes to play at a top NCAA program,” he said. “We help them put together their resume and structure emails that get sent on to the collegiate coaches.”
Since the CGP program launched in 2014 it has impacted over 200 players. On average four or five move on annually to the CAP program and work on the path to playing collegiate golf.
“Some of the schools our CAP players have gone on to play at include Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa State, NIU, Illinois State, Florida A&M, Butler, and many more at the D2 and D3 level,” Brodell said.
Kim Sullivan, whose son, Raymond Jr., started in the CAP program in 2015, could not be more thankful.
“It was abundantly clear that he was dedicated to the game and we needed to find a program for him,” said Sullivan. “CAP made a tremendous impact on his game. It offered him skill development, training, and competition. He was also surrounded by top instructors who took it upon themselves to take an interest in Raymond’s personal development and to help him advance his game.”
This coaching and guidance led to Raymond Jr. earning a scholarship to play Division I golf at Butler University.
“Raymond excelled this summer and was in a position to have Division I coaches reach out to Brian Brodell for references,” Sullivan said. “Brian spent a great deal of time with college coaches and was instrumental in helping Raymond in receiving offers to play at that level. We are extremely grateful for his experience at Mistwood and McQ’s.”
This winter at McQ’s, juniors in the CGP program will receive 30 hours of supervised group practice sessions during the months of December through April allowing the students to work with coaches and other golfers to improve his or her skills over the winter months before transitioning back to Mistwood in the spring. The sessions are every Wednesday 5:30-7 p.m. (ages 8-12), 7-8:30pm (ages 13+) at McQ’s Golf Dome.