Following an extensive planning process, The O’Neal School has created what it hopes could be one of the most elite youth golf academies in the world.
On Thursday the school announced the formation of the Traditions Golf Academy, which uses the best of both the educational climate at the college preparatory school and the golf atmosphere in the Sandhills area. And then it added one more piece to round off the deal by bringing in world-class golf instruction.
The academy, for students in 8th through 12th grade, will feature 20 aspiring college golfers that will receive education at The O’Neal School, receive instruction by Nick Bradley, who is a world-renowned golf and swing coach for any professional golfers, and will practice daily at neighboring Forest Creek Golf Club.
“We really wanted to marry three crucial forces together. O’Neal has excellent athletics, the tradition of Pinehurst’s golf reputation that can be found at Forest Creek and also high level instruction,” said James Franklin, director of athletics at O’Neal. “Hopefully those three forces will put us in a position to offer an outstanding opportunity to junior golfers aspiring to play college golf.”
Traditions will welcome its first class in August 2021.
The 20-golfer limit is to ensure that individual instruction is ensured for those accepted into the program. All golfers will meet O’Neal’s admissions standards as well as all graduation requirements.
Following the academic day, Bradley and the junior golfers will be granted access to Forest Creek’s practice facilities and golf courses.
“We are looking at a pretty unique program that hasn’t really been done in that many places. And we aspire to be the best golf academy in the world,” Franklin said. “We would like more one-on-one specialized boutique instruction where you can get a lot of attention.”
Golfers at Traditions will not be eligible to play for the school’s team, but Franklin, who will also serve as director of the academy, sees their addition to the school adding to the “environment” with those golf teams at the school that have won multiple state championships in recent years.
“Adding more high level golfers will continue to create an environment of excellence from the golf standpoint,” he said. “It will give the opportunity for our current golfers to have peers that aspire to be high level golfers as well.”
The Traditions Golf Academy will instead prepare its golfers to play in individual youth tournaments and leagues.
The development of Traditions Golf Academy took several years, the school said in a press release. The O’Neal School researched options to form a selective and competitive golf academy.
“Finding the right instructor, partnering with Forest Creek Golf Club, and creating a curriculum for Traditions students took time,” said John Elmore, the head of the school. “My team wanted to make sure we had everything in place to launch Traditions with success from Day 1. We are confident we have done just that. We are truly honored and excited about bringing this program to Pinehurst. We feel it will be really impactful for the future of golf.”
The addition of the program also falls in line with another major golf announcement for the area in recent weeks, after the United States Golf Association planning to build a second headquarters in Pinehurst that will also include a testing facility. Also announced was more U.S. Opens coming to Pinehurst in the near future.
“There has been a lot going on with the Pinehurst golf industry recently and we hope to add to the positive golf developments in the area with the inauguration of the Traditions Golf Academy,” Franklin said.
Franklin said the development of the high level youth golfers will go further than the golf course.
“Obviously, the end goal is to guide students toward playing college-level golf,” Franklin said. The focus is golf, and it’s mission appropriate for O’Neal where we are looking at developing high level character, high level academics and physical well-being. It’s the whole person in general that is going to be focused.”