Since 2016, the First Move Junior Golf program at Reynolds Lake Oconee has helped mold some of the brightest young golfers in the lake country.

Helmed by Ryan Rios, Head PGA Golf Professional at The National Course, First Move is unique in that it blends physical movement into the skills required to play golf, culminating in an atmosphere that is fast-paced, action-packed, and—most importantly—fun. In 2019 the program ran continuously from April through October, cresting at 30 total participants—15 each in both the Little Rippers (4-7 y/o) and Rippers (8-10 y/o) divisions.

We sat down with Ryan to learn more about First Move Junior Golf (FMJG).

Ryan, when you were creating the framework of FMJG, what was the mission of the program you decided upon?

We strove to create a program with the following benchmarks:

  • Welcoming environment
  • Clear path towards improvement
  • Incorporate athletic movements into all sessions
  • Develop elite juniors and “Golfers for Life”

In setting this mission, we wanted to create an environment where golfers—particularly the youngest ones—felt comfortable participating. When kids are having fun and want to come practice, this accelerates their improvement. We also opened the program up to everyone, not just Reynolds Lake Oconee Members.

The youngest members of FMJG are just four years old. What is the advantage of enrolling a Little Ripper into the program, even if they’re not yet entirely interested in golf?

We’ve created a ‘FUNdamental’ learning environment for the Little Rippers. Their sessions are fast-moving with limited idleness. This leads to a curriculum that teaches them the basic fundamentals of golf, but also incorporates music and games that help them develop the athletic movements, balance, and coordination to become better golfers, sometimes even without touching a club.

Can you give a couple key areas of a golfer’s game you focus on during your sessions, and a few drills you use to enhance skills in those areas?

For young golfers, balance is extremely key. Without good, proper balance, it’s extremely difficult to achieve both distance and accuracy with their shots on a consistent basis. For this, we use props such as a balance beam snake, bosu ball, and a speed ladder.

We also focus on their general explosiveness, as this can lead to longer drives. For this we utilize the heavy ropes and medicine balls, allowing the weight of the instruments to create a natural resistance that is challenging but not overly-demanding.

Reynolds Kingdom of Golf presented by TaylorMade hosts the Reynolds Elite Performance program, one of the most elite junior programs in the southeast. How does FMJG work as a feeder system into the program?

Working closely with Sean Cain, Blake Adams, and Taylor Crosby over at the Kingdom, we’re developing a universal skill-based test that will allow FMJG participants a path into the exclusive program.

Interested in participating in First Move Junior Golf during the 2020 season? For more information, please contact Ryan Rios at

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