The Youth Player Development Award recognizes a Colorado PGA member who is a leader in junior golf, reflects the image and qualities that juniors can emulate, and provides opportunities and experiences for juniors to learn and play golf. Congratulations to Jason Witczak, PGA, Director of Instruction at The Club at Pradera, and The Pinery Country Club for being this year’s award recipient!

Growing up in North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Witczak was an athlete from the second he could walk. Having played and lettering 4 sports in high school (cross country, basketball, football, and golf) excelled primarily in football and golf, as he played both at Marshall University. Immediately following graduation, Witczak got the call of a lifetime – it was the Tennessee Titans recruiting him to kick in the NFL. After a 12 year stint ranging from the NFL to the European League, to Arena Football, Witczak hung up his cleats for the last time in 2011. Two weeks later he qualified for the National Club Professional Championship. It was clear that the pivot to golf was going to be the move. “Baby number two was born 8 months later, and I was still playing in a few tournaments, but after a missed cut, I knew I wanted to create something for my kids. My intention started with creating good instruction for my boys. It started as a small group of my kids and their friends, and then it grew into after-school programs, which led to summer camps. The family moved to Colorado in 2015 from Arizona and the rest was history. “I had the opportunity to run the Academy at Green Valley Ranch, and my family was looking for a little bit of a lifestyle change, so we took the leap to Colorado.” Following his time at Green Valley Ranch, Witczak landed himself with Arcis Golf, which allows him to instruct at both The Club at Pradera as well as The Pinery Country Club. “That’s the beauty of Arcis – I can be in Colorado in the Summers, and Arizona in the Winters.” Witczak bounces in between Colorado and Arrowhead Country Club between the months of September and June. “Last year was the first year I was able to create a PGA Jr. League at Arrowhead CC, so now my vision is to one day have both my Colorado and Arizona teams go head to head in the PGA Jr. League National Championship!”

What does it mean to you to receive the Youth Player Development Award?
I do not teach to win awards, I teach to make anyone I work with be better at golf. So to be recognized is validation – it makes me even more motivated to continue down this path. I’ll never forget the day Jim Hajek called me to tell me I had won. I was teaching a junior summer camp at the time – so I got to share the news with my kiddos, I couldn’t even find the words; I’m not a super emotional person, but the kiddos saw my emotions and tears that day. To see their excitement to share it with them was great. It meant what I decided to do when I pivoted from football to golf, was validation; that I made the right decision to get back golf and end my football career.

What are the qualities you possess that you believe supported you in receiving this award?
I am able to motivate to be a better student, child, golfer. I give these kids the motivation that they can achieve goals they didn’t think they could achieve; they begin to believe in themselves, and it’s about understanding that life is like golf – with the motivation, this isn’t a one-hit-wonder, this is mastery that is instilled daily. I’m teaching them the importance of routines and rituals in order to obtain their mastery. They take these skills into their everyday lives – waking up at the same time every, etc. There is this importance of having routine and ritual, which comes from motivation. I take a lot of what I learned in football and put it into golf – our football practices were relatively the same day after day, so the repetition was there. With repetition comes the response to pressure. Pressure is only something that you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing, so I get them to understand that they do know what they’re doing. I’ve instilled that motivation and confidence in them.

What are tools you use in your profession that help you with your success?
I listen to the kids, I get on their level, so I gain their trust, the trust of their parents, and once they trust you, the success is unlimited. Being a parent myself allows me to really understand the importance of listening and level up with these kids. I also think the relevancy I have – I know what’s going on with their lives, I am more than just a coach; it’s not just about golf when they’re here we create a fun environment, they want to be there, they want to have fun!

What is your proudest moment as a golf professional?
My 17U PGA Jr. League (CO Team) won the Regional Championship last year. And to see the kiddos put together all the hard work for the last 5 years – to see what it meant to the kids and their families. They stuck with the process and trusted the process. These kids believed in me and themselves to stick through COVID pains. We were tied with Iowa with 4 holes left, and all 3 of my teams birdied the 5th hole which gave us a 5 shot lead, it was huge. It was such a special moment to watch.

Share something about yourself that others may not know:
I competed professionally at the World Long Drive Rankings – I was top 20 in the world for about 5 years and I retired after I won a tour event in Dallas, which was the pinnacle of my long drive career. So I retired to focus on my kids, but I have a vision and a goal to come out of retirement and compete again in the Senior Division!