U.S. Kids Golf local tours provide boys and girls, ages 5 to 14, the opportunity to advance their golf skills in age-appropriate competition without having to take the time and incur the costs of having to travel long distances.
"U.S. Kids is a national group with all kinds of local tours all over the country," said Chris Dewar, director of the Reno-area tour. "U.S. Kids approached us. We've got a good partnership with the First Tee of Northern Nevada because it gives us access to so many kids."
In addition to Washoe, participants of the fall tour have the chance to play Tahoe City (Aug. 25), Carson Valley (Sept. 8), Eagle Valley East (Sept. 22), Lakeridge (Sept. 29), Grays Crossing (Oct. 13), Thunder Canyon (Oct. 20) and Silver Oak (10/27), which will be the final tournament and host site for the tour championship.
Similar to the PGA Tour, players at U.S. Kids Golf events are encouraged to have caddies to help them play their best. U.S. Kids policy promotes allowing caddies as a special component of tournaments and is part of the group's commitment to encouraging family interaction that builds lasting memories.
Dewar said individual events drew 50-to-70 competitors in 2011, the fall tour's inaugural season. She admitted those numbers were down by at least a third last fall. That's made her top priority to increase participation in Season 3.
Dewar has reached out to the First Tee of Sacramento and First Tee of the Central Valley (Calif.) in hopes of encouraging members from those groups to compete in the northern Nevada events as well.
"My goal this year is to double our participation," Dewar said. "We've tried to get the word out through First Tee and our Facebook page. I'm hoping more kids will start. Mom or dad or grandpa can caddie for the kids. It's a fun, wonderful experience.
Participants must pay a one-time $50 registration fee through U.S. Kids and then each tournament has an entry fee.
Much like the PGA tour ranks, local youths accumulate points by their play in each weekend tournament. The top five players in each age group can earn priority status and compete in U.S. Kids Major tournaments across the country. The player of the year in each age group gets an invitation to play at the world championship, held each year at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.
Each youth tour stop has multiple sets of tees, set up for kids at an age-appropriate distance. Dewar said parents who caddie for their kids are given a 'Caddie 101' rules sheet and added a rules official is always present on the course.
"This is a great program," Dewar said. "The whole mission is to grow the game of golf."
For more information, visit: www.uskidsgolf.com or call Dewar at the First Tee of Northern Nevada, 851-2332.