As we move into the holiday season, we pause to celebrate the end of another great year. This is indeed the perfect time for us to reflect on the successful fall semester at IJGA. As we make our lists – and check them twice – we realize the changes have been vast as they have been profound. Structurally, our Old Carolina facilities are nearing completion. The buzz of saws continues to hum even now as we write this from our new IJGA offices. Soon enough the construction crews with their hammers and nails will be replaced by students in the new IJGA Tour Performance Center with golf clubs and balls – all eager to become better every day. Athletically, our energetic and committed Golf Coaching Team has revitalized the training development program. Personally, our passionate and dedicated Student Life Team is putting the final touches on a character, leadership and engagement program. Indeed, our nice list is quite long this year.
Welcoming Director of Golf Jonathan Yarwood, and his years of professional and junior golf experience, was the most significant change for students starting the semester. Jonathan added new coaches to the existing team to enhance the golf program, incorporating fact-based fundamentals with the latest technology to give our students the best available knowledge to help them improve their game. The new, comprehensive program goes much deeper than standard training. The results the students saw and the pace at which they improved made the hard work all worthwhile to them.
The hard work has clearly paid off with the following tournament wins as proof:
- Florida Junior at Falcons Fire won by Luis Martinez.
- Faldo Series South Carolina Championship at Parris Island won by Fabienne Van Kleef
- Central Florida Classic at Lake Buena Vista won by Chase Phillips
- Island Open at Dolphin Head Golf Club won by Kotaro Murata
To go along with these wins, IJGA students also finished the semester with eight 2nd place finishes and nine 3rd place finishes.
Paired with the new program, we have been making some tremendous structural improvements around the campus starting with a complete renovation of the old barn. The Bluffton Barn started its life as an equine facility, before changing into a golf pro shop for the old Traditions golf course. Projected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018, this beautiful former barn will once again transform into the IJGA Tour Performance Center, our state-of-the-art indoor training facility. The “revitalization” started with the old pro shop being converted into the new office space, but the more important aspect of the renovation has been taking place in the back half starting with a indoor putting/chipping green the size of the 18th green at Harbour Town Golf Links. Along with the green, we have installed individual hitting bays, taking advantage of the new Power Tee system; these tee’s automatically feed up to 60 golf balls per minute, enabling students to really focus on locking in new swing changes. Potentially the most important enhancement will be the 600-square foot IJGA Tour Performance Studio that will house the Swing Catalyst force plate system, making us one of the only indoor facilities to have this system available for junior golfers. At our home course, Pinecrest, the renovations continue. We are remodeling the practice facility at the course to accommodate the extensive new golf program; expanding the hitting area on the driving range, as well as adding new bunkers and an improved putting green will give our students a wider array of training situations, and therefore the upper hand going into tournaments.
While a robust golf program and supportive facilities are paramount to success in the game, IJGA takes pride in our focus on the development of the individual as well, understanding that positive character traits are important in life and in the game of golf. With this focus, fall semester saw the introduction of the Captain Program, inspiring student leaders within their peer groups to create positive change at the Academy. In addition, our Student Life and Mental Performance programs work in tandem to host character-building events, such as “Waves”, to encourage students to think about their strengths and how those strengths can be utilized both personally and on the golf course. In the spring semester, IJGA students will begin a leadership development program called Habitudes. Used within many university athletic programs, Habitudes will challenge students to develop leadership skills – preparing them to be as sound in character as they are in golf ability.
As we look toward a new year and semester, we look forward to welcoming our students back. We are committed to building on the foundations laid over the course of the school year’s first five months and will continue to strive for excellence in golf, in academics and in life.