Ohio Launches State Team as Part of USGA’s U.S. National Development Program

Seven states will participate in the initial pilot phase beginning in 2024

(Jan. 17, 2024) – Ohio is launching a state junior golf team that will expand the pipeline for elite local golfers into the recently created U.S. National Development Program (USNDP), an initiative  launched last February by the United States Golf Association. Ohio is one of seven states that will participate in the initial phase of the state team pilot program kicking off in 2024 with the goal of all states having a team by 2033.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work together to bring this impactful program to all of the junior golfers in Ohio“, said the members of Ohio’s team committee who represent the amateur and professional associations in the state. “As the associations who represent the game of golf in Ohio, we all believe it is critically important to invest in the next generation of golfers. We think this is a significant first step in the process and we are looking forward to seeing the growth of this program through our collaborative efforts.”

The other six participating states include California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Tennessee. The  program will come to fruition through collaboration between the USGA, its allied golf associations, the PGA of America and its sections and relevant state junior programs.

“This first of its kind state team program will serve as a critical part of the talent identification pathway for  the USNDP and provide more opportunities for a diverse population of athletes to receive resources and  guidance to compete at the highest levels of the game,” says Heather Daly-Donafrio, USGA managing  director, Player Relations and Development. “Additionally, the opportunity to represent their home state  will incentivize each region’s best junior golfers to play more in-state competitions, ultimately  strengthening the junior golf programming across the country.”

The seven states participating in this initial pilot program will each establish a committee consisting of  representatives from major golf entities within the state including any AGA’s and PGA of America  Sections. Ohio’s team committee includes Matt Lefferts (Ohio Golf Association), Todd Johnson (Greater Cincinnati Golf Association), Steve Jurick (Miami Valley Golf Association), Robb Schulze (Northern Ohio Golf Association), David Griffith (Northern Ohio PGA), Matt Rutland, PGA (Northern Ohio PGA), and Patrick Salva (Southern Ohio PGA).

The committee will oversee team selection criteria and the operation of the state team program based on guidelines provided by the USGA. Team selection criteria will be published prior to the entry deadline of the first event and may consist of a points structure, ranking, or combination of other competitive factors. All pertinent information will live on a website to be launched in early February.

State team roster sizes are calculated by elite junior participation in the state, ranging from a maximum of two boys/two girls to 20 boys/20 girls. Ohio expects to have 16 players (8 boys/8 girls) as part of the initial  team. To be eligible to compete on a state team in 2024, a player must be a U.S. Citizen. Each eligible player must be 13 years old by Jan. 1, 2025, have not reached their 19th birthday by July 19, 2025, and must not be enrolled in college for the 2024-2025 school year. A Handicap Index® is also required.

Additional eligibility requirements and FAQs will be released in early February.

Announced in February of 2023, the USNDP is designed to ensure that American golf is the global leader in the game by focusing on six key pillars: talent identification, access to competition, national teams,  athlete resources, player development and relations, and athlete financial support. The state team program will focus on creating a developmentally appropriate, aspirational pathway for athletes within each state to compete at higher levels of the game, including an opportunity to represent the United States as a member of the USNDP’s National Team led by former Pepperdine Associate Head Coach, Chris Zambri.