Super-cheap and free junior rates are a big part of how I was able to fall in love with the game as a youngster. During family vacations in Myrtle Beach, my dad took me to many of the dozens of courses that did and still do let kids play free with a paying adult. It is a valuable service to the game to let kids play for free or next to nothing. What's more, it's good business: get kids hooked on golf and they'll be glad to pay to play when they're of age.
Golf's myriad virtues help forge solid citizens, too. The more kids play golf, the better off society is.
Started in 2006, Youth on Course has assembled a network of more than 1,400 golf courses nationwide, each of which charges junior golfers $5 or less to play a round. The program has more than 100,000 members, who pay an annual membership fee (varies depending on a golfer's home state golf association) in order to participate.
In addition to mere access, Youth on Course also facilitates several experience and leadership programs for young people, from summer internships subsidized by donations to a caddie program that gives members opportunities to earn money and gain valuable working experience.
Another game-changer Youth on Course has up its sleeve: an increasingly robust college scholarship program, established in 2008. This year, 20 total alums of the program received some level of financial support through the cause's benefactors. Two of those scholarships were underwritten by GolfNow and GolfPass, with GolfPass' $20,000 ($5,000 per year) scholarship going to Viveka Kurup, who will attend Bucknell University this fall and join its women's golf team.
For more information about this very Cool Golf Thing, visit YouthOnCourse.com.