Los Angeles Business Journal

Golf Business Takes Swing at Tennis

TGA sees net gain in expanding P.E. camps for kids. By David Nusbaum Monday, April 2, 2012

With parents worried that local schools are letting down their children, education companies are finding a niche offering academic enrichment programs outside the classroom.

Now, a local company is applying that same business model to physical education, which has taken some of the most severe cuts.

TGA, an El Segundo franchisor that was founded in 2003 and runs golf academies for children, is expanding into after-school tennis camps – often held on school grounds.

“Some schools don’t run P.E. programs because they can’t afford to keep instructors on. They have teachers make kids run, and that’s it,” said Michelle Rockholt, one of the company’s first franchisees in Torrance. “Schools and parents are looking for programs like ours to fill the gaps.”

TGA has had success with its golf academies, which offer weekly lessons that cost $13 to $20 an hour, depending on the franchise. The academies are aimed at children who have never played the sport and run up to 10 weeks. The classes are typically held at elementary and middle schools, though some franchises also use community centers and YMCAs. Schools typically offer their facilities for free or charge the franchisee a small fee.

Although sports camp might seem an odd concept to franchise, the company has attracted 50 franchisees across 23 states. The franchise fee varies depending on the size of the territory, but TGA estimates the average startup cost, including the fee and equipment, is $17,000. Franchisees pay 8 percent of their revenue as royalty to TGA. They have to hire their own instructors and get insurance.

Joshua Jacobs, founder and chief executive of TGA, said he wasn’t sure he wanted to expand into tennis camps. But he decided to do so after the United States Tennis Association, the sports’ governing body, agreed to work with him in developing a curriculum.

“We analyzed tennis to see if it would negatively impact our business,” said Jacobs. “We’re seeing golf numbers rise where tennis is offered and project tennis participation to be at or above golf.”

Junior sized

TGA has closely modeled its tennis franchises on its golf programs, also offered on school campuses.

With golf, children are taught all aspects of the game, from rules, to teeing off, to etiquette. They use junior-sized golf clubs and a synthetic soft golf ball that travels a short distance and doesn’t break windows. Putting is even taught on synthetic rugs.

With the tennis program, instructors set up junior-sized courts either on playgrounds or in gyms, and provide rackets and a special ball that doesn’t bounce as high or fast as regular balls.

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