A Look Into The Latino Junior Golf Association

David Arroyo began to get more involved in golf when he saw that his daughter, Elene, had a pretty good game at a very young age.

“My daughter had a great swing, so I got into it,” Arroyo said.

He was there to help and support and do all he could for both Elene and also his son, Alejandro.

He was there to take them to their golf lessons and to watch them play in junior tournaments. He was also there to get them into the Latino Junior Golf Association.

It’s a nonprofit organization that has been around for close to 30 years in Sacramento and serves to introduce youths, both boys and girls, ages 8 to 18, to the game of golf.

It’s based at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex – home of the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course and Arcade Creek Course – and is one of the many junior golf programs that Morton Golf oversees each year.

“My kids are very good with their swings,” said David Arroyo, a Sacramento resident. “I didn’t miss a golf tournament. I worked and made sure I was off for the golf tournaments, so that I could follow them.”

It’s the Latino Junior Golf Association that gave Arroyo’s children their start in golf – providing them and so many, many others over the years with a start and a foundation in the game.

“It’s a starting point,” said David Arroyo. “I have to say that all of our parents are really great and all of our kids are great. The atmosphere makes it very fun and respectful. It’s just great to be around.”

On its Facebook page, the organization points out that “all kids are welcome” to join. Latino Junior Golf Association a family affair for Arroyo family It’s a family affair when it comes to the Latino Junior Golf Association.

David Arroyo has been the organization’s president for five years. His wife, Martha, helps out. Their two children volunteer their time, doing all they can to assist the juniors.

“I get a lot of help from my wife. She’s my right-hand person and she takes care of everything,” said David Arroyo. “I just kind of go and tell the kids what to do. She takes care of everything else.

“My kids did it when they were youngsters. And now they come back and volunteer. A couple of the young kids come back every year and help out the program.”

Elene and Alejandro each went to Inderkum High School and played on golf teams there.

At Inderkum, Elene was a three-time All-Capital Valley League selection and was twice named as the league’s most valuable player.

Elene played four years of college golf at the University of Texas–Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.

As a sophomore (2011-2012), she finished 13th at the Great West Conference Championship and was 33rd at the HBU Husky Invitational.

Texas-Pan American won the Division I women’s team title in 2011 at the 25th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship. It was played at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Arroyo had the second-lowest score on her team, shooting 76-79-75 – 230.

As a junior (2012-13), she tied for sixth at the Cougar Golf Classic and finished 18th at the Great West Conference Championships.

In 2013, at the 27th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, Texas-Pan American lost on the first hole of a playoff to Bethune-Cookman University and finished second at PGA Golf Club. Arroyo had the third-best score on her team, shooting 78-75-76 – 229.

As a senior (2013-14), she was 16th at the Ocelot Invitational, tied for 16th at the CSU Cougar Classic, tied for 28th at the Lady Eagle Invitational, tied for 38th at the Harold Funston Invitational, tied for 38th at the Islanders Classic, and was 44th at the Western Athletic Conference Championship.

Alejandro Arroyo played college golf for American River College in Sacramento.

Program is held in June, July and August

The Latino Junior Golf Association is open to everyone and it meets for practices in June and July, each Monday and Thursday, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the area at the end of the driving range, at Haggin Oaks.

The juniors receive instruction from Chris Staples of the Haggin Oaks staff and volunteers. They practice at the Haggin Oaks Academy Holes, a short-game area where players can work on bunker shots, pitching and chipping. They also spend about 45 minutes hitting balls.

“It’s open to everybody – whoever wants to golf,” said David Arroyo. “We’re trying just to keep it going. It’s like a big family out there. Everybody’s invited and everybody is there to have a good time.”

According to its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/LJGASAC/, the Latino Junior Golf Association is “committed to teaching beginner, intermediate, and advanced golf skills/etiquette to all children.”

The organization welcomes additional volunteers and donations.

A golf tournament and barbecue in early August – highlighted by the awarding of trophies to the top finishers in each age group – concludes the program.

The cost to join has remained exactly the same over the years: $70 for the year, $35 for a sibling. The registration fee includes a T-shirt and cap.

Golf clubs and equipment are provided for those who do not have their own clubs.

“Everybody’s invited,” said David Arroyo. The Latino Junior Golf Association was not able to offer its program last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Before COVID hit, you would see parents helping out and everybody just having a good time while the kids are practicing,” said Arroyo. “It’s like a family, everybody being out there. They all know each other. Even when you get a new kid, everybody is so very welcoming. The kids just get along. It’s just great.”

It’s a new year for the Latino Junior Golf Association, and Arroyo is preparing and planning to get it back up and going again. Arroyo gets golf clubs that are donated; he also looks to buy sets of clubs that can be used by the program.

“They all are going to have the right equipment and everybody has clubs,” he said. “We try to supply everything for them, because it’s hard. It’s a very, very expensive sport. My daughter and son both played in college and I know how expensive it is for kids who get started, even for lessons.”

The program has received support from a number of volunteers over the years, including Gilbert Luna, a former president for 20-plus years, and Gil Zaragoza, Hank Torres and Kathy Lummen.

Receiving support from Morton Golf The Latino Junior Golf Association receives a grant from Morton Golf Management each year.

According to its website, www.mortongolfmanagement.com:

“With the largest player development and lesson program west of the Mississippi, Morton Golf takes bringing golfers to the sport very seriously. We oversee all of the junior golf operations for three of our facilities (Haggin Oaks, Bing Maloney Golf Complex, and William Land Golf Course), which include the creation and development of all program curriculums, scheduling, golf coaches, volunteers, and advertising in addition to hands-on instruction in many of the programs.”

Other programs that Morton Golf oversees:

  • The First Tee Junior Golf Camps.
  • The First Tee Year Round After School Program.
  • The First Tee Saturday Year Round Program.
  • Little Linker and Junior Linker Summer Playing Program.
  • Tots on the Tee Program.
  • Pee Wee Play League.
  • Girls Play League.
  • Parent/Daughter Golf Class.
  • Free Girls Golf Clinics.
  • Athletic Movement Class for Junior Golfers.
  • Boys and Girls Club of Sacramento Golf Program.
  • PGA Junior Play League.
  • LPGA/USGA Girls Golf Program.
  • California Eagles Special Olympics Program.
  • American Heart Association/Saving Strokes Program.
  • Martin Achievement At-Risk Youth Program.
  • Center for Fathers and Families/Inner City Underserved Youth Program.
  • Play Golf America Day.
  • Annual qualifier for the State of California Special Olympics Games.

In addition, according to www.mortongolfmanagement.com:

“We have also been involved in the decision to create our ‘Kids Play Free’ initiative at all of our facilities. This program allows children under the age of 18 to play free golf anytime with an accompanying paid adult. This program has been a huge success, generating 3,900 free rounds for children.

“To further the goal of promoting juniors to play the game of golf, our team has agreed to have all of our facilities be NCGA (Northern California Golf Association) ‘Youth on Course’ facilities. With this program in place, junior golfers play almost 1,500 rounds at our courses while receiving substantial discounts ($5 for 18 holes and $3 for 9 holes).

“Morton Golf supports multiple local and regional junior golf tournaments by providing our courses at highly reduced rates. Our courses serve hundreds of juniors through these tournaments every year.”

David Arroyo expressed his thanks and appreciation to Morton Golf Management and the staff at Haggin Oaks.

“What they do for the kids, it’s like it’s heaven sent,” he said.

Morton Golf’s ownership team is led by Ken Morton, Sr., a PGA Master Professional and the Chief Executive Officer for Morton Golf LLC.

The other owners are:

  • Terry Daubert, President of Morton Golf.
  • Ken Morton, Jr., Vice President of Retail & Marketing and Past-President of the Association of Golf Merchandisers.
  • Mike Woods, Vice President & General Manager of Haggin Oaks and Vice President of Morton Golf Foundation.
  • Tom Morton, Vice President of Player Development and President of Morton Golf Foundation.

For more information More information about the Latino Junior Golf Association can be obtained by going to its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LJGASAC/ or by calling David Arroyo, the program’s president, at (916) 698-0813.

* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.

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