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How The North Texas PGA Reaches Young Golfers

The Ronny is now the hub for all manner of junior golf activities

Mark Harrison, the Northern Texas PGA CEO, has a nice corner office overlooking the massive, still new-feeling Omni PGA Frisco campus. It doesn’t take him long to spot action at the NTPGA junior golf park closest to his window.

“Come over here, mate, look out this window,” he says. “That is exactly what we are looking for.”

That, which Harrison points to, is a dad with his small daughter, putting on the synthetic grass turf and trailed by the mother, who is holding another small child in her arms. They are at “The Ronny,” named for the longtime Richardson golf professional Ronny Glanton and now the hub for all manner of junior golf activities in North Texas.

“This is exactly what we hoped for when we built this urban golf park,” Harrison says. “For people to come and experience and learn the game anytime from anywhere.” 

If the parents had brought a baby stroller, Harrison wouldn’t want them kicked off the putting green. “No,” he continues. “That is exactly who we want to be here.”

The Omni PGA complex includes a massive Omni resort hotel, two championship golf courses, a putting green, a short course, restaurants and an outdoor lounge, but what Harrison and others are most excited about is the two-acre Ronny Golf Park with putting greens and bunkers for kids and parents of all ages, open to all, from anywhere, when structured camps or lessons are not in progress. And they’re excited for good reason: the complex is lighted for night play in the summertime, with bright green turf that should never get muddy, dirty or soaked; a playground for kids too young or too tired to golf and an inside structure to do homework or wait for friends or a ride home.

Formal group sessions are open to ages 3-14, with camps in the summertime and public play for any age when group sessions are not in progress. Older kids can go to the Modern PGA Coaching Center nearby.

Long before there was a 6oo-acre Omni PGA complex or an urban junior park in Frisco, Harrison and his staff, along with some of the legendary golf teachers in the North Texas area, had already produced some of the greatest golfers in the world. Dallas natives Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler, both of whom have attained the status of No. 1 in the world, are certainly proof of that, as are North Texas golf major champions Justin Leonard and Stacy Lewis, who won the Men’s British Open and the Women’s British Open, respectively.

But 7-year-old Gabriel Ellis doesn’t need a lesson in golf history to know why he likes The Ronny Golf Park. “The Ronny program is fun, and that makes me happy,” he says.

“The coaches and other participants make it a fun atmosphere,” chimes in his 13-year-old brother, Grayson. “The coaches set it up to make it a lot of fun while learning the game. It made me realize that golf is even better with the right coaches and people surrounding you; it’s an amazing sport.”

Heading up the junior golf program is veteran golf instructor Chad Moscovic, who, at age 38, has spent a decade-plus providing golf instruction at courses all over North Texas, most recently at the private and prestigious Brook Hollow Golf Club, where strollers across the green, blow-up animals on the putting surface and stickers after every round could certainly be frowned on. “Our number one goal is to take non-golfers at the beginning and get them hooked on golf so they want to come back and do it over again and again,” says Moscovic. Whether that’s giving stickers or allowing blow-up animals on the green, whatever it takes to make young golfers feel welcome, The Ronny is on board.

The three main tenets of the Northern Texas PGA junior golf programs at The Ronny are fun, inclusion and affordability.

“We want them to know what golf is and to learn to love the game, changing up the field for every practice, and have so much fun,” says Hanna Dickens, The Ronny’s assistant director, who also helped nearby Dallas Baptist University win a national golf title before going into teaching full time.

While spring lessons range from $275 to $400 for an eight-week program, plus individual drop-in classes, there is no charge to putt and chip at The Ronny. There are sponsors available if any player, or their parents, need help to enroll and learn a game for a lifetime.

“I’m not sure we do a good enough job promoting that aspect of it,” Moscovic said. “We have donors and sponsors who can help any kid — they just have to ask.”

Harrison stresses that no financial barrier should prevent a North Texas junior from visiting the golf park at least once — not always the case with golf. “Need clubs? We got them. Balls, yep. Putt and chip for free; come on and try it.”

That is certainly a change, given that The Ronny is located adjacent to the most expensive public golf courses in Texas, Fields Ranch East & West, where players regularly pay hundreds of dollars for 18 holes of golf. 

The Ronny word has certainly started to get around, and more than 1,100 individual junior golf visitors have visited the complex since it opened last spring, with 2,000 overall visiting and enrolling in the programs. The Ronny now has 18 part-time teachers who show up to help conduct the junior golf sessions with a third full-time teacher to be added in the summer. “We didn’t really expect this many people at the start,” says Moscovic. “We just wanted a place where kids could be a kid, and we’ve gotten them from everywhere.”

Nick Walter certainly qualifies as among the golfers from everywhere, as he brings his 7-year-old daughter, Katherine, from Decatur at least once a week to learn more about golf. “I think I followed the Northern Texas PGA on Instagram and saw something on there about the golf park, and it sounded fun.

In Decatur, we are probably about an hour from anywhere, but it’s worth it for the good time,” Walter says. “They do a good job of making it fun. It’s turned into a Saturday routine that she enjoys.”

It’s so enjoyable that when Katie Ellis told her kids in Frisco that there was no session available on a Saturday because of the holidays, they turned up with frowns full of disappointment. “I can see the training but can also see the fun, as well. I think what the program hopes to do is really grow the game. I think it offers great access to coaching and the facility, and hopefully, a lifetime of enjoyment follows,” she says.

Katie Manor, who became a high school and college golfer and captained the women’s golf team at Boise State University, said the music and the goofy fun are a far cry from when she was involved in junior golf. “It’s so unlike when I was growing up, hitting, chipping, putting, 30 balls of each, and then I had to just move on to the next station.”

“I am such a fan because they always have music going and blow-up animals, which make it so inviting for the kids,” says Manor. “They make it a partnership and play games and everyone can get a sticker at the end. There’s a huge difference between getting to go and having to go. When the kids find out they can’t go this week or have to wait, they’re disappointed.”

Kristin Vitale moved with her husband, Anthony, from Colorado two years ago and was amazed at what she found in her new hometown of Frisco, saying, “Moving from Colorado and then seeing this is amazing. We didn’t have anything like that there. Heck, they don’t have anything like this pretty much anywhere.”

Another key feature of the program is seeing that when kids take up the sport, the fun component takes over before the work component can make it tiresome. “One of the things I think is important for kids is avoiding burnout, and making it fun helps with that,” says Ellis. “With The Ronny, you have access to everything, and we meet kids where they are. Learning something you can use for the rest of their lives.”

While one of the junior golfers — past, present or future — at The Ronny could one day walk in their world-dominating footsteps, Harrison stresses that is not the goal of the ambitious project. “We would rather have 10,000 Luke Harrisons,” he says, referring to his own son, who recently graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, “because they are the future of the game, instead of one world No. 1 player.”

Will Manor, the 11-year-old son of Katie Manor, is a long way from deciding if he will one day rule the golf world, but so far, he likes the game. “It’s really an amazing experience to get to practice at a place like this,” he says. “I love the turf, which is fun and never gets muddy or dirty.”

But more importantly, the young player grasps the purpose and nature of the North Texas junior golf program at The Ronny, saying, “It’s great fun for the kids to just get to goof off around here if they want to.”

For information on spring or summer sessions or for more information on the programs, go to