Ryne Burnett, PGA2021 Southern Ohio PGA Youth Player Development Award
Ryne Burnett, PGA, Assistant Professional and Junior Golf Leader at Kenwood Country Club, is the 2021 recipient of Southern Ohio PGA Section’s Youth Player Development Award. With a teaching foundation rooted in his love for the game, Burnett has a gift for developing junior golfers. Since becoming a PGA Member in 2017, he has jumped in to learning the best practices for developing new golfers from an early age. His implementation of various programming gives new golfers a taste of the game and encourages them to build confidence on the course, creating a lifelong golfer. The 2021 Youth Player Development Award is Burnett’s first recognition for industry success in Southern Ohio.
Read below to hear Ryne’s thoughts on developing the next generation of golfers.
SOPGA: What Inspired your passion for youth development?
RB: I’ve always had a feeling that I wanted to be a teacher or coach, somehow involved with shaping young people’s lives. Growing up, I often heard the saying “do what you can do well, but also do what you love” in reference to career paths. I was always pretty good at golf, it’s what got me my college education, and I had often been told that I could be a good teacher. I essentially combined the two.
When I started out as a golf professional, I was at a facility that had the strongest junior golf program in its city. So I saw early on in my career how important junior golf programs were to a facility. Then when I got the job at Triple Crown, our head professional was also the local high school coach and there was a strong history of success that was being bred through there.
Now I get to teach golf and continue to learn more every year while also becoming a better mentor and coach.
SOPGA: Is there a best practice you’ve utilized in developing your junior programming?
RB: Communication and consistency are really the two strongest areas – outside of what we do in our classes on the golf course – that have strengthened our junior golf program.
When I arrived at Kenwood, I held a parent orientation for the new programming that we were going to introduce as it was a completely different look than what they had in the past. So I provided that orientation to present the new programming but to also give the parents a chance to gain some familiarity with me before they started signing their kids up for golf classes.
And from there, each season we stay consistent in making sure every day we provide the best junior golf experience we can while also staying ahead of the need to adapt our programming. Going into season four, we look a lot different than we did in season one. We’ve got kids who have been in the program since we started four years ago who have a good foundation but then we also have new juniors just beginning to be exposed to the game. Our goal is to develop every junior golfer we have, regardless of age or skill.
SOPGA: Is there a program or activity that you’ve seen have the largest impact developing new golfers in your experience?
RB: At Kenwood Country Club, we utilize the Operation36 development model and the Birdie Basics program as our ways of introducing juniors to the game.
Birdie Basics allows our juniors, ages three to six, to learn golf skills through story based games with the mascot of “Mama Birdie”. Yes, it’s possible for a three-year-old to stay focused for an hour in a golf class because we’re teaching them in a language they understand through stories they can relate to and involve themselves in. As the juniors get older and improve through the program, they move into the Operation36 development model set up with the goal of carding a score of 36 or better for nine-holes through each division beginning at 25-yards from the center of the green. In utilizing these programs, we have found that our juniors are motivated not only to continue learning how to play, but they also achieve their own goals in a way that takes less time and they maintain lower scores, which ultimately leads to creating not only more golfers, but more rounds of golf after they graduate high school.
SOPGA: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience developing young golfers?
RB: When I watch our kids play in Operation36, it’s centered around playing the game but specifically through formal nine-hole events that we set up as a tournament. There’s a score card, they’re keeping score, there’s a scoreboard, there’s a pass-fail element to it. Our kids are learning early on how to deal with adversity, how to keep their head held high, how to make it look like on your face everything is good even if things are hard. The way our kids are getting exposed is they’re learning some life lessons while also learning how to play golf. Both lessons are going to be valuable to them as they get older.
SOPGA: What does it mean to you to receive the 2021 SOPGA Youth Player Development Award?
RB: It’s an honor to receive the award, really, especially since the involvement of junior golfers in the game is so important. It directly relates to a large reason why I wanted to become a golf professional – to share a passion for the game that I found as a junior. I get to have a lasting impact on young people’s lives on and off the golf course every day. It’s truly quite an honor.
About the Award: This award is designed to recognize a SOPGA Professional who is a leader in youth golf, reflects the image and qualities that juniors can emulate, and provides opportunities for juniors to learn and play golf. A member’s contributions to Sectional and National youth programs and involvement in the promotion and development of youth golf at the facility and community levels are some of the criteria considered for this award.