With plans to become a training ground for young golf hopefuls, Grande Sports Academy hopes to do for the sport what it is doing for soccer.
The academy plans to open the Faldo Series Academy at Grande Sports World in the fall, with a goal of 40 students in its first semester.
As in its soccer program, which has 72 students, teens will reside full-time at Grande Sports Academy to combine academic studies with an intensive athletic training program.
The golf program was designed by Sir Nick Faldo, a former No. 1 world-ranked golfer and six-time major champion. The British player now mainly is a TV golf analyst.
Coaches at the academy will be certified in the Faldo method of golf instruction, said Tim Alai, general manager of Grande Sports Academy.
The academy’s soccer program has students from 19 states and six countries, and Alai believes the golf training program also will attract students from around the globe.
“As far as reach, golf has more influence in more parts of the world than soccer,” Alai said.
Officials with the academy this week are presenting information about the golf program at a PGA show in Orlando, Fla.
Grande Sports Academy began in 2010, opening its soccer training facility and attracting some of the sport’s most promising youths, who enroll to improve their skills in preparation for playing at the college level. Players reside at the facility full-time, immersing themselves in intensive soccer training. Most attend local high schools.
After graduating from high school, most of the soccer students accept scholarships to play for college soccer teams.
The golf academy will be similar, attracting elite young players who will reside at the Grande Sports Academy complex, attend either Vista Grande High School or Mission Heights Preparatory High School, then immerse themselves in intensive golf instruction before and after school.
The youth golf academy is expected to churn out part of the next generation of high-level golfers who could be in line for college scholarships, careers in the golf industry and professional player status, according to Alai.
Faldo, who designed the program, will be involved with the academy and will work with students, Alai said.
“This is the only full-time residential golf academy affiliated with a professional player,” Alai said. “And it’s the only full-time residential golf academy west of the Mississippi. Everything else is in Florida.”
Until a new dormitory is built in 2014, golf students for the fall 2013 semester will be housed in the “tower” portion of the adjacent Francisco Grande Hotel, according to Alai.
Although the golf and soccer students will each be immersed in their own athletic programs, teens from both sports will have plenty of opportunity to socialize with each other.
“They will go to the same schools and they’ll be sharing meals,” Alai said. “They will be interacting. It’s a sense of community.”