Junior Golf

Operation 36 combines fun and learning


Hear from the creators of Operation 36 a special program to bring kids into golf and keep them

Country Club of Spartanburg Director of Instruction Kevin Britt talks about the value of the Operation 36 program.


Operation 36 combines fun and learning for kids

Creating fun ways of learning golf skills keeps kids coming back to the course is a big part of Operation 36.

When you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense.

In basketball young players don’t start learning the game from the three-point line, they start by making layups.

So why does golf start beginners on the tee, hundreds of yards from the hole?

The co-creators of Operation 36, a  developmental program for junior golfers,  used the basketball analogy 10-years ago to build a concept that values success over technique and fun over everything else.

“When we were teaching juniors at our club we had 80 enrolled in the first four-years, but when we began the fifth year the number dropped to half,” said Ryan  Dailey a co-founder of Operation 36.

Ryan Dailey and Matthew Regan created the Operation 36 program to build kids skill with fun and games.

Dailey and his co-creator Matthew Reagan immediately checked with the families and the kids that had dropped out of their program.

“We started calling families and it came back to one thing. None of them played golf outside of our program,” recalled Reagan.

Dailey and Reagan set out to establish a playing concept to go with the instruction.

The first attempt still had the kids taking three hours to play nine holes, but the next version became the basis for their program.

Operation 36 places the kids 25 yards from the hole and challenges them to complete the nine holes shooting 36 or better.

As the young golfers got better the distance was moved back.

It went from 25 to 50 yards and then further back as golfers were able to successfull play the distance and put a 36 on their scorecard.

“The interesting thing is it absolutely exploded. It was like the market needed it. As it started to grow we needed to find golf pros and facilities that wanted to grow the game,” said Dailey.

The two founders of Operation 36 recently visited the Country Club of Spartanburg to see one of the very successful Operation 36 operations.

The Operation 36 program at the Country Club of Spartanburg has almost 80 kids enrolled. The program recently gave out awards and a special banquet to top players.

Kevin Britt is the director of instruction at the club. As an individual instructor Britt has a track record of developing outstanding young golfers who have gone on to earn dozens of college scholarships and national awards.

While his focus on individual player development has produced champions, his interest in the Operation 36 concept has opened the door to the fun the game of golf offers to over 70 juniors at Spartanburg.

“We try to have fun, especially with the younger ones. If they are going to come back and get better it is important they are having fun,” he said.

An Operation 36 session may look like organized chaos, but there is a method to the way games and drills are constructed.

“We might be hitting to a target and we get them to aim a little higher to improve trajectory or distance control. The kids sometimes don’t’ know what is going on, but they are having fun and we are helping them improve their skills,” said Britt.

Success comes from developing the skills to be a better golfer come from having fun and coming back to learn more.

The Spartanburg club has made a major commitment to junior golf. PGA Club professional  Josh May and his staff are all involved in helping young golfers.

“Besides helping kids learn the game, our junior program adds value to our membership. Hopefully it insures the future of the game by adding golfers to the game,” said May.

At Spartanburg, in addition to the professional staff a number of volunteers help with the junior golf program.

Every club, instructors and programs take pride when one of their own goes on to success at a high level in the sport.

Operation 36 provides the frame work for young golfers to develop the skill to advance in the game, but it also creates golfers who just want to have fun.

“Different players can progress at different speeds. Somebody who wants to be good can be as good as they want. Somebody who wants it just for recreation and doesn’t want to compete, it is for them as well,” said Britt.

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