Back nearly two decades ago when I was looking at colleges and universities, I was strongly giving thought to playing college golf. I had a partial scholarship on offer for a D-III school that I just so happened to want to attend for its incredible academic programs. However, when I spoke to the coach on the phone about the program and tried to get a sense of what my life would be like playing collegiate golf while attending an urban college, I felt uncomfortable. I had no idea what I'd be getting into, and there wasn't an easy way for me to learn.
Instead, I chose not to play collegiate golf, attended the University of Maryland twice, and here I am now. But if I had been able to experience what being a college golfer was actually like for a few days, I might have changed my mind -- and I may have gone down a different path in life.
That's why I was nodding my head a bunch as my friend Josh Jacobs, owner of TGA Premier Sports, told me about his new Southern California Golf Experience. Josh has a world of experience bringing golf experiences to younger golfers in their schools and communities, ranging from after-school programs to camps. So, it was a natural move from him to team up with Loyola Marymount men's head golf coach Jason D'Amore on a camp concept that would give up-and-coming junior golfers an idea of exactly what to expect the day they step onto campus as a student-athlete.
The Southern California Golf Experience is a five-day camp, limited to 20 participants, with four sessions starting from the middle of June through August. The cost is $1,495 per player, plus hotel.
Campers will practice and compete with each other, while receiving instruction from college coaches and players. Campers' games will be analyzed, helping them fine-tune aspects of the game like their wedge repertoire, course management, a customized practice regimen and more. Playing lessons will be held at Rustic Canyon Golf Course (one of the best public course values in the country), Rancho Park Golf Course, Wilson Golf Course and Olivas Golf Links Course.
To get a better feel for college life, campers will have the chance to attend question-and-answer sessions with coaches and players as well as a tour of Loyola Marymount’s campus and practice grounds. Parents will be able to participate as well. Meanwhile, the kids will be able to experience the Los Angeles area with chaperones, including a L.A. Dodgers baseball game and the Santa Monica pier.
For D'Amore, it's not only an opportunity to help competitive golfers get a feel for collegiate golf, but it's also a chance to get to know some potential recruits.
“Becoming a collegiate golfer is a process that takes hard work and constant communication with college coaches. The latest recruiting rules have made it so there are few opportunities to interact with coaches,” said D’Amore. “This is a great chance for young golfers to learn, compete and showcase their talents on outstanding Southern California golf venues while interacting with college coaches and players.