A groundbreaking is planned in the coming weeks for the 5,000 square-foot U.S. Golf Academy, a new teaching facility for U.S. Kids Golf in which the organization seeks to create a “living laboratory” for growing youth and family golf within a club environment.
Construction on the two-story academy at Longleaf Golf & Family Club in Southern Pines is expected to take about six months. An upper level will include large spaces set aside for advanced training of U.S. Kids Golf-certified coaches; the lower level will hold a fitness center scaled for kids but still user-friendly for adults. It will also include a refreshment area where students can enjoy a healthy snack and a sitting area for parents.
The academy will also install golf simulators, a controlled environment with a choice of targets where ball flight data can be recorded for review. The simulators also allow teaching staff to continue to work with students during bad weather and evening hours.
“We expect the building to be ready for use this fall and the design of it will be worth the wait. The building and what we’re putting into it has morphed into something really special,” said PGA Professional Jim Hardy, hired last summer to direct the academy and lead instructional programming for Longleaf.
Moore County was already known as an annual summer pilgrimage for 2,000 of the world’s best young golfers wanting to compete in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships, but now with its purchase of Longleaf Golf Club, the U.S. Kids Golf organization is establishing more permanent roots in the community.
“We are in a good spot, we’re progressing right on schedule,” said Dan Van Horn, Founder and President of U.S Kids Golf. “When we made the decision to purchase Longleaf, our goal was to provide an excellent club atmosphere and operation for the existing members and guests, while creating an atmosphere based on a family-first culture. The integration of the family experience into the club philosophy was extremely important for our company’s mission."
The new academy building will be situated between the 18th fairway and the driving range and it is Hardy’s job to ensure the facility will serve every member of the family, not just junior golfers. Each program is designed to benefit players using proven models of learning, teaching simple and repeatable swing development and making the sport a family endeavor.
“We want to grow golfers in our community,” said Hardy. “Providing affordable learning and playing opportunities for families and instilling a lifelong love of golf is core to our mission. The academy will also create opportunities for families from around the world to travel to the Pinehurst area to learn and enjoy playing golf and experience the unique lifestyle of the ‘Home of American Golf.’”
“Our Mission at U.S. Kids Golf is to help kids and their families have fun learning the lifelong game of golf and encourage interaction that build lasting memories,” said Van Horn. “Our strategy from the very beginning when we bought Longleaf was to make sure we properly communicated our mission and goals with the current membership and to operate a golf course and club they all enjoy. They had to believe in what we were planning and we had to fulfill what we were promising. We believe this will allow us to better serve our membership and to expand our mission into the local community.”