In the summer of 2011, Carol Fromuth, a coach and junior golf administrator in St. Louis for some 40 years, introduced the Accelerated Golf Tour. The tour has been a godsend for players, parents and coaches on the high school and college landscape, a program that provides top-notch competition at championship facilities, invaluable information and budget-friendly costs.
In short, it’s a hat trick for those in the college golf environment – a win-win-win.
The AGT consists of a series of 10 summer tournaments, in which young players can refine their skills, develop course-management and decision-making instincts and polish their overall game in the competitive culture of two-day, 36-hole events.
For years, high school and college coaches spoke of the need for summer playing opportunities, a workshop for aspiring players to stay sharp and gain experience. The AGT rolls it in the hole, dead center.
“Many kids are interested in going on and playing golf in college, but they have no clue and no guidelines about what’s possible, or how their abilities measure up,” Fromuth said. “This summer tour gives them a chance to improve as players, to be seen by coaches and learn what they need to know about the process.”
In its seventh year, the tour is for men and women, with competition separated into two divisions: collegiate and high school. The collegiate category accommodates players already associated with a college team, or simply attending college. The high school division is for ages 12-19, with graduating seniors able to choose to compete in either category. Among the AGT alumni is PGA Tour player Scott Langley.
"Starting my competitive golf career on the Accelerated Golf Tour was instrumental to my long-term success," said Langley, who is playing a split schedule on the PGA and Web.com tours this season. "It provided me a venue to learn how to compete, gain confidence and learn the rules of the game. Some of my fondest memories growing up came from competing in junior golf tournaments alongside my friends. I think any young person interested in competitive golf should consider participating in the AGT."
The clubs that have hosted AGT events over the years are among the best in the Midwest and have staged numerous USGA, PGA Tour and LPGA championships, such as Bellerive Country Club, Norwood Hills and Missouri Bluffs.
Courses are set up at collegiate competitive standards: 6,600 yards as the minimum length for the men, 6,000 yards for women.
The entry fee for individual tournaments is $175, or $150 when as many as three tournaments are purchased at a time. There is no membership fee assessed. Each entrant receives a sleeve of balls, rule book, two Gatorades per day and a tee gift for the season.
The AGT is approved by the American Junior Golf Association, which means players can earn AJGA points that can be applied to qualify for AJGA events.
The AGT began in metropolitan St. Louis but has expanded to include players from 13 states, from California to Florida. Making that possible are numerous golf course owners and professionals who share in the AGT’s mission to grow the game and encourage young players. More information is available at www.acceleratedgolftour.org.
And it’s not all about competition and prizes. Each year, the AGT sponsors a free college scholarship seminar for high school players, open to anyone. A panel discussion is conducted with coaches from NCAA D-I, D-II and D-III programs, plus representatives of NAIA and junior colleges. Attendees also get a discount on the Ping Golf Guide. This year, the seminar is scheduled for Dec. 2.
The first event on the 2017 AGT schedule will be June 13-14 at Dalhousie Golf Club in Springfield, Mo., site of the 2015 USGA Women’s State Team Championship. Players can register until the night before each event. That said, the sooner they start planning for college, the better.
“If they’re decent players, and looking at colleges, kids need to start applying by the end of their sophomore year in high school,” Fromuth said. “These schools work two years out. And kids need to know there are lots of opportunities other than D-I, as well.
“If they are academic-oriented but want to continue playing, there’s a lot of academic scholarships available at D-III schools. There are different situations that fit their needs.”
Plans for college and a future with golf is a lot to think about. The Accelerated Golf Tour could make it a lot less imposing.
Dan O’Neill, who covered golf for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1989 to 2017, is an editorial consultant on golf for Fox Sports. His articles have appeared in publications such as Golfweek, Golf World, Golf.com and The Memorial magazine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @WWDOD