Brendon Elliott Wins 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award
Sep 19, 2017
It all started in 2008. Brendon Elliott, director of Career Development at Golf Academy of America in Orlando, was looking to enroll his four-year-old daughter in daycare. As he was poring over all the extracurricular offerings, he noticed that there was one activity missing from every program: golf. He raised it with the director of the daycare, who said that he thought it might be too complicated for children so young.
Elliott looked over the offerings. He saw Japanese, karate and computer skills. Golf wasn’t any more complicated than any of those, he thought. And that’s when Little Linksters was born.
A Growing Passion
For the first six months, the Little Linksters program was at one daycare. Today, there are about 140 active members at various locations around Florida.
Elliott started out as the only teacher, but as the program grew, he found himself stretched too thin between Little Linksters and his head golf professional position. In addition to its daycare programs, Little Linksters includes a tournament series and the G.O.A.L.S. program, which caters to children with special needs. Another side of the organization offers private instruction, summer camps and the PGA Junior League.
To keep it all running, today Elliott focuses mostly on the back end — training instructors, filling out grant proposals and doing other behind-the-scenes work. The instructors he hires to teach the youngsters are mostly Golf Academy of America students and graduates.
His plans have not stopped — Elliott would love to spread Little Linksters further, eventually going national.
“I really didn’t see myself in the role of being a junior golf guy. It just kind of happened that way,” Elliott says. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Brendon Elliott and Little Linksters’ Awards
Elliott recently received the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award, a recognition he describes as extremely special. He had been a finalist for six years in a row. When PGA President Paul Levy called him, Elliott says he was surprised.
“When he told me that I won, I was very much taken aback, and I had to apologize to him because I couldn’t really find the words to express how grateful I was for that,” Elliott says. “It definitely means a lot.”
In addition to this award, Elliott and Little Linksters have racked up quite a collection of other honors, including four North Florida PGA Junior Golf Leader Awards, U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Master Kids Teacher, the International Network of Golf Player Development Award, as well as a handful of others.
Journey to Golf Academy of America in Orlando
When Elliott heard that Golf Academy of America in Orlando was hiring a PGA instructor, he jumped at the opportunity. Campus President Brad Turner insisted that he continue on with Little Linksters, explaining that the students would benefit from learning about the program.
“When I got hired here, it was almost what brought life back into our program,” Elliott says. “I absolutely love helping the students here at Golf Academy of America find whatever their passion is in the industry and then seeing them placed in those positions out in the field.”
Elliott now serves as Golf Academy of America in Orlando’s Director of Career Development. He still teaches four classes, but his ultimate goal is to help students find work in the golf industry.
“There’s a lot of funny twists and turns that your career takes in this industry,” he says. “It’s really been a blessing for me.”