The Pioneer Program
In the summer of 2000
the editors of Golf Digest
recognized The Pioneer
Junior Tour as the best
junior golf program across
the United States in the
The Pioneer Tour has three junior golf programs that bring instruction and competition to young golfers ages 8 to 18. This award-winning program combines the efforts of the Parks Department staff, area golf professionals, local high school golf coaches and volunteer amateur golfers. It introduces the youth of Bergen County to the enjoyment and challenge of the sport of golf emphasizing the honor, etiquette and traditions of the game.
It began in 1993 when Bergen Community College Golf Coach Doug Yennie and his wife Linda approached the Department of Parks with an idea to invigorate junior golf in Bergen County. When former Director of Parks, Wolfgang Albrecht, Jr. heard the plan, he wholeheartedly supported it and offered the county golf courses for the tournaments and the county golf staff as program administrators. Over 100 young participants played in those first two golf events. The enthusiasm was overwhelming and each successive year more tournaments were added to the schedule.
The Pioneer Clinic began in 1995. It was developed to provide beginners with a sound foundation in both golf mechanics and golf etiquette. The program consists of two-hour sessions, once a week for six weeks. Local volunteers, coaches and PGA professionals teach the finer points of the grip, stance and swing.
The Pioneer Q-Tour was added in 1998 for the intermediate golfer who understands the basics of the game. It provides access to a golf course for those not yet ready to play on their own. Groups of four play as many holes as they can in the two-hour session, held once a week for five weeks. An adult walks with each group to help the players get around the course. Participants 12 and under must first play this qualifying tour before joining The Pioneer Junior Tour.
The Pioneer Junior Tour brings the challenge of competitive golf to the youth of Bergen County. Young golfers gain tournament experience from a variety of golf formats. Competitors are separated into four divisions according to age and play in professionally organized events. Each year eight tournaments are played on the Bergen County public courses and local private facilities. The season culminates with the Pioneer Banquet.
Junior golfers under the age of 12 receive a Pioneer Tour Card granting them access to Bergen County golf courses after 4 P.M. weekdays and Sundays when accompanied by a parent.
Over eight hundred young golfers participate in The Pioneer Tour every year. The Executive, the Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Parks Department continue to commit the necessary resources for this extraordinary program. Their unwavering support and the dedication of the countless volunteers guarantee the success of the program and the growth of junior golf in Bergen County.