The stars come out at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

If you've got the resources, the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy can help an aspiring golfer realize his or her dreams.

Hank Haney
Hank Haney makes several trips a year to the International Junior Golf Academy, based in Hilton Head Island, S.C., which is named for him.
Hank HaneyHank Haney International Junior Golf Academy

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - So you want to go to college and play golf? Or maybe you want your son or daughter to go to college and play golf?

Well, if you’ve got the money (about $63,000 per year) and the desire, there's a program that will prepare students for both, and it's endorsed by the teacher of the world's No. 1 player. (Don't let the cost scare you off; scholarships are available.)

It's called the Hank Haney International Golf Academy, a school that not only helps juniors and young adults build their golf games but prepares them academically as well. Located on Hilton Head Island, the school, in conjunction with its affiliates, the Heritage Academy and the International Junior Golf Tour, is the only organization in the world that combines training, competition and academics for serious junior golfers.

Founded in 1995, the International Junior Golf Academy is designed for students in grades 5-12 and even has some post-high school students. The IJGT is the second largest junior golf tour in the United States behind the American Junior Golf Association. It hosts more than 60 events every season. The competitions are nationally ranked events held at venues such as the TPC Sawgrass, Torrey Pines and Pinehurst just to name a few.

Haney IJGA success stories

The IJGA has students from 22 states and 23 countries from around the world. Over the past 14 years, more than 2,000 students have attended, and as much as 90 percent of the students have received college golf scholarships from schools such as UCLA, University of Georgia, Oklahoma State University, Texas Tech, Virginia, University of New Mexico, Georgia Tech, Furman University, Boston University, Mississippi State University and University of South Carolina at Aiken.

Ninety-four percent of the class of 2009 who applied to college received a golf scholarship, and all of them got into the college program of their choice.

"Our top male student, Richard Werenski (South Hadley, Mass.), began as a freshman at Georgia Tech University this month, and our top female student, Stephanie Meadow (Ireland), will be attending the University of Alabama in the fall," said Glenn Gray, marketing and sponsorship coordinator for the Academy and affiliated programs.

Some of the more successful alumni over the years have included In-Kyung Kim, who has won on the LPGA Tour; Morgan Hoffman, a Walker Cupper and top-ranked NCAA player for Oklahoma State; current University of Georgia player Marta Silva, who won the Southeastern Conference title as a freshman; and Song-Hee Kim and ShanShan Feng, who both play on the LPGA Tour.

Exclusive golf instruction with Hank Haney

Haney, who of course works with Tiger Woods, became involved with the IJGA as the director of instruction in 2007. A year later, the organization was renamed.

It was important to Haney to not be just "a name on the door" but to be a truly active contributor, so Haney works with each student individually, which is something the general public can't do. He also personally trained and certified each member of the staff, as well. There are also 13 other instructors who lend their expertise as well as 19 academic instructors.

"He's here about four or five times a semester," said Blaik Shew, chief executive officer of Junior Golf Corp., the operating entity of the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy. "He comes in for four or five days in September, October and November, and then again in January, February, March and April."

Golfers don't have to come in with pedigrees. One student entered the program shooting 150 over 18 holes, only to improve to fire 65 within a year's time. The key, said Shew, is hard work.

"You have to have an open mind and a willingness to make changes," Shew said. "You have to heart, determination and a will to outwork your competitors."

Academics and athletics

A typical day for full-year students at the Academy is spent on athletic training for half of the day and academics for the other half. Weekends are for competing in nationally ranked tournaments.

The academic part of the program is provided by the Heritage Academy, which is fully accredited by the state of South Carolina. Course work is rigorous, and the program accommodates the student-athlete's competitive schedule while assuring that a high level of academic excellence is maintained.

Small class sizes, private tutoring at all levels and college-preparatory courses help students get ready for college-level work. There are Advanced Placement classes and an Honors Program as well as I-20 authorization for international students.

Hank Haney International Golf Academy admission requirements

To get in, students need a 2.0 GPA or better, a great attitude, a desire to play competitive golf and tuition money, of course. The estimated cost of $63,000 covers golf and academic instruction, tournaments, membership to nearby Pinecrest Golf Club (where students practice and play), transportation, and room and board.

"We do offer scholarships depending on ability and family needs," said Shew, who is also a top instructor, having worked for David Leadbetter.

Scholarships up to $10,000 are available. Some students, however, have gone as far to enlist community support to help pay for their programs.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment