The Future Looks Bright for YOC Leadership Council Co-Chairs Adi Sunkam and Emma Raimer - Youth on Course

The Future Looks Bright for YOC Leadership Council Co-Chairs Adi Sunkam and Emma Raimer

The secret to success for any organization is strong leadership and dedicated members. At YOC, there’s a fantastic mix of both in its Youth on Course Leadership Council. Here, highly motivated YOC members work together to increase YOC’s impact across the country and promote YOC both locally and nationally. In addition, members discuss ways to increase awareness through social media and other channels while they connect with like-minded young golfers on a personal level. 

Adi Sunkam and Emma Raimer are this year’s co-chairs of the YOC Leadership Council. They’re on a mission to give back so that more kids have access to the game and its benefits.

Meet Adi Sunkam

Born in Los Angeles, Adi Sunkam has spent most of his life living in Minneapolis, MN. Adi, who began playing golf at age 10, is so grateful to have discovered the organization at age 14. He says,  “A lot of the courses near my house are very expensive, which prevented me from playing them as much as I would have liked. Then a course manager told my parents about YOC, and we discovered that some of the courses near my house actually had the program. When I joined it seemed too good to be true.”

Adi is especially thankful for the accessible golf rates of $5 since the climate in Minneapolis isn’t always ideal for golf. “YOC has helped me improve my game greatly, by allowing me to play more. This is especially important when we only get to play 6 months a year in MN. Anytime outside is valued. Most importantly, I’m able to play more often with my friends and family, on some of my favorite courses.”

Adi can’t say enough about YOC and all of its benefits. He often tells young golfers, “It’s an amazing program that will save you and your family a lot of money, but most importantly it will allow you to play more. This drastically improves your golf game, without worrying about the cost. You will also improve your relationships with those around you, which I feel is the most important aspect of golf.”

A desire to give back through YOC

In addition to reaping the benefits of the program for himself personally, Adi also wanted to give back. He joined the YOC Leadership Council as a way to do so and was excited when he saw the co-chair position was available.  “By the time the role was open, I had been part of the council for two years. I wanted to contribute more to the council, and I thought being co-chair would be the greatest way to give back. When the role was available, I felt it was a chance to help make a change and lead.” 

As a co-chair, Adi helps lead the media committee and volunteer committee and uses his position to pitch any ideas or flaws regarding YOC with the council. He also enjoys interviewing new applicants, writing for the newsletter, and using his position to discuss ideas.

“For special projects, I wrote a few pieces for the YOC newsletter – one that was about equality in golf, and another that advertised the council to our members. The sharing of ideas and special projects is another thing that makes the council so great.”

Taking his role seriously

Adi is grateful to be part of the council and appreciates how his work might positively impact his future.  “I hope my time with YOC is positive, and that it opens new doors for me – especially roles like the council. I want to help make a change, no matter the subject. If I do something to help a cause or make change in society, I’m proud. And that’s what I strive for in leadership roles.”

Future plans beyond YOC 

Adi is excited about his future and wants golf to be a part of it. “I plan to go to a 4-year college to study computer science or medicine. Although I play two sports, golf and basketball, golf is my primary sport.  I’ve been thinking about golf at a collegiate level. Right now my goal is to have another strong start to the year for both school and sports.”

Meet Emma Raimer

Emma has been playing golf since the age of four – which makes sense, as she comes from a long line of golfers. Emma’s dad played college golf, and his entire family golfed.  Emma says, “I started out with a plastic toy set of clubs in the backyard and eventually transitioned onto the course. My dad would lure me out to practice with the promise of Snickers or a Gatorade. Eventually, I grew to love the sport and started asking him to take me to the range. He taught me how to play and then I joined some local tournaments.” 

Later, Emma joined the Wisconsin Junior PGA on the Future Tour and participated in Drive Chip and Putt competitions. Emma’s mom helped by  driving her to tournaments all over the state.  The hard work paid off – in 2015, Emma gained enough points to win Player of the Year.  Emma has been a varsity member of the Slinger High School golf team since freshman year, and was named Team Captain and MVP this past season. 

Discovery of YOC

“About three years ago, I learned that my membership in the Wisconsin Junior PGA also included membership in Youth on Course. I had overheard someone at a tournament talking about playing a practice round through YOC. I looked it up and found out how to log into my account on the app. When I looked at the map of partnered courses, I was surprised to see so many that I knew. I used to spend most of my time on the range and occasionally play on the course. Now I can play for only 5 dollars, at courses that I probably would have never discovered if it weren’t for YOC.”

Taking YOC to the next level

Emma didn’t just stop at being a member of YOC. “One month, I saw a link on the member newsletter for their leadership council of dedicated teen golfers. I was intrigued. I’d been looking for more clubs to join, and this seemed like the perfect fit. I was selected for the council that fall and served on it for a year before being offered the co-chair position.”

Excited to Lead 

Emma looks at her co-chair role as a way to become more involved and make change.  “When Michael Lowe (VP of Programs)  told me I was nominated to be one of the leaders of the council, I immediately accepted. I was so excited to be able to take on more responsibility within the council. As a co-chair I help organize meetings, interview applicants, develop projects, and act as a bridge for communication between the council members and the employees of Youth On Course. I’m really excited about some of the new ideas being presented, including the possibility of a clothing drive. I know that clothing can be a barrier to golf since many places have dress codes or require formal attire to play. I thought that we could collect donations of used or outgrown clothing and give back to golfers who need it.”

Another initiative Emma is pursuing is the addition of more courses to YOC’s roster. “At one of our meetings, a council member mentioned that there weren’t any YOC courses in their area. By talking with the marketing team, they were able to gather flyers and draft an email to send to different courses to convince them to join YOC. I loved this, and thought it would be a great idea to share some of these materials in a future newsletter so that all members can be advocates for YOC in their areas.”

Spreading the Word About YOC

Emma is proud to be able to help more young golfers gain access to golf through YOC. “Youth On Course is a great tool for young golfers because it allows players to take advantage of great prices. YOC also offers hidden benefits like making new friends, and member opportunities such as internships, scholarships, caddie programs, and a leadership council.”

“Personally, YOC has helped me in so many ways. I’ve benefited vastly from the discounted rates – I’ve played many courses and have been able to drop my score dramatically. This year I was able to shoot my first round in the 70’s! YOC has helped me form long-lasting bonds with different people that I’ve played with. It’s also helped me gain experience in leading projects and meetings.”

Looking to the future 

Emma has aspirations to play college golf and would like to study to become a physician’s assistant.  “I hope that my time with YOC will help me gain leadership experience and make connections that will help me in the future whether it be in college or in my career.”