The road to college golf isn’t easy for junior golfers, but the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield can help pave the way. Founder Roger Knick, a PGA professional who was honored by the Met PGA with their Youth Player Development Award in 2019, has created the Northeast’s leading full-time golf-coaching facility and prep school, as well as a suite of tools to help aspiring college golfers, their parents, and college golf coaches make it happen.
“Our goal is creating greatness in golf, the classroom, and life,” Knick says. To that end, the center provides a development program that integrates golf instruction, physical fitness, mental discipline, academics, and life-skills training for junior golfers aiming to play on a college team. Kids as young as 8 are eligible, although the emphasis is on high schoolers.
The foyer of the center features dozens of college logos from schools where GPC alum have played. Recent Westchester juniors who studied there include James Allen of Scarsdale (Penn State), Jay Milch from Mount Kisco (Carnegie Mellon), Connor Hicks of Pound Ridge (Franklin & Marshall), and Steven Wieder from Yonkers (Belmont Abbey).
Junior golfers (and a limited number of adult members) hone their games in an incredible facility with eight indoor/outdoor bays, bent-grass putting greens and short-game areas, a par 3 course, two gyms, locker rooms, classrooms, lounges, and every conceivable training/teaching tool available. Bays are equipped with the GEARS system, launch monitors, ground-force plates, an advanced putting lab, and a club-fitting studio. Access is by membership only.
The curriculum is tailored to the individual golfer and begins with an exhaustive physical screen, golf performance and equipment evaluations, and a formal mental assessment. Once accepted, the junior works with up to a dozen different coaches, on everything from nutrition and time management to golf performance. Everything is measured, and progress is rewarded.
In 2017, Knick opened Ethan Allen Prep, a fully accredited high school operated in partnership with K-12 International Academy. Dormitories opened this year. Ethan Allen Prep Executive Director David Newman says the school concentrates on individualized instruction because, “Just like everybody has a different golf swing, kids acquire academic knowledge differently, too.” A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for admission, and tuition varies from $5,000 to $90,000, depending on the depth of residential services and experience provided.
The school combines online learning with onsite teachers, and a typical day mixes physical and academic study. It begins with a morning workout followed by breakfast, class time, golf study, lunch, afternoon classes/study, and more golf. Students also take five one-week play/study trips to Florida during the winter, accompanied by an academic teacher, where kids not only play golf but pick up the time management, logistic skills, and emotional discipline necessary to compete at the college level.
In addition to residential students, GPC works with junior golfers who live off-campus, as well. An eight-week Summer Program is being introduced this year.
Three years ago, Knick introduced Junior Golf Hub, an online suite of tools to connect high-school golfers with college coaches. Golfers create a profile that includes their bio, tournament scores, academic records, rankings, etc. Coaches can scan the profiles using various performance filters while golfers can search the data base of 2,300 college programs for ones that fit their aspirations. Some 8,000 golfer profiles are available to the 800 college coaches registered to use it. Initial registration is free.
An annual subscription of $129 is required to allow direct connection to individual coaches. A mobile app will be released this year.