By John Grossi
Photos by Alexiz Gomez
Golf is a sport that can be enjoyed in mixed groups of any age, skill level, gender, or physical ability. For a sport that is seemingly so inclusive, why is there such a stigma around golf that presents it as stuffy and expensive?
This perception is what local father and sports enthusiast Kevin Oliver has been trying to change for Long Beach kids since 2018, when he started a franchise of TGA Golf Academy here in the city. He began running afterschool enrichment programs on local elementary school campuses. However, seeing the immense need and response to these affordable programs, Oliver has taken the program to new heights partnering with Bixby Village Golf Course and creating a “Youth Golf Heaven.”
“Long Beach already has a great community of golf,” says Oliver, “We want to add juniors to that list and keep adding programs to get kids and families out there on the course together. We see golf as a glue that keeps people together.”
A Program Created With Families in Mind
The Long Beach TGA Golf Academy introduces its membership program starting January 2023 - the first youth membership golf program of its kind. Definitely more affordable than your average golf lesson (which traditionally rounds out to about $100/hr.), a youth member with TGA can attend up to eight times a month (for 1.5 hours per lesson) for just $199/mo. However, price point is only the start of what makes the TGA Golf Academy a better solution for kids and families.
Kevin Oliver and head coach, “Coach Mike” (who is TPI Certified, a pro, and the former college coach at Marymount College), have developed a program to help kids excel at golf while making their families happy.
Here are a Few Highlights:
• The academy is open 7 days a week, and youth members can choose which days and times they come by for coaching - allowing for flexibility around busy family schedules.
• Students are evaluated and placed in colored skill-level tiers —similar to karate belts—that allow them to progress over the years as they develop skills in the three main categories at TGA: athleticism, golf skills, and mentality.
• Lessons are held at a specially-designed facility adjacent to Bixby Village Golf Course, created by Kevin Oliver and his staff. Each 1.5 hour session involves quick circuits where kids are able to learn and perform in all three key categories, working with coaches and moving at a fun pace through stations.
• All memberships come with actual course-time through TGA’s partnership with Bixby Village Golf Course. At least twice a month, students in the membership will play on the course, whether beginners working on skills just at one hole, or more advanced students playing all nine holes with their coaches and peers.
• The golfer-to-coach ratio never exceeds 6:1, allowing for individualized instruction during every session.
The Benefits of Golf
“When I started this I knew there had to be a more fun, engaging way to have access to play the game. There’s, of course, a lot of hard work involved with learning this game but it can also be fun and exciting,” says Oliver.
As far as your own child, Oliver says the goals for putting a child in golf are as varied as the individuals who join. Some of the youth will maximize their memberships and use TGA as a way to prepare for a competitive golf career, as they get older. Others will come in with the goal of just learning the game and being able to play recreationally for the rest of their lives. Whether for business or with family and friends, Oliver believes that learning the basics of golf, its etiquette, and skills will benefit families of all interests and passions.
If you’re interested in learning more about the TGA Golf Academy, or visiting their facility at Bixby Village Golf Course, visit website playTGA.com/LongBeach to learn more.