Legends Golf Club Hosts 2012 AJGA Junior OpenThe AJGA has set a standard for years, to be the best at what they do. So what do they do? The AJGA is a non-profit dedicated to the overall growth of and development of young men and women who aspire to earn golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. And they’ve been tremendously successful at what they do, you may have heard of one of their alumni… do the names Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods sound familiar? How about Paula Creamer, Jim Furyk Lorena Ochoa, Davis Love III, Brittany Lincicome, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Stacy Lewis, Morgan Pressel or Hunter Mahan? What do they all have in common? The AJGA.
Before the PGA Tour wins, major victories, national championships and an induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Phil Mickelson was like a lot of other young golfers at the AJGA, wide eyed and good at golf. From 1985 to 1989 “Lefty”, as he would later become known, played in 26 events and still holds the AJGA Boys Division record for most career individual wins with 12. While at the AJGA he earned the Rolex Junior Player of the Year in 1986,’87, and ’88, and he’s not the only one.
Tiger Woods won eight of the 13 AJGA tournaments he participated in from 1991-1993, which ties him with two other golfers for second most AJGA career wins in the history of the organization. In addition to that, he earned the title of Rolex Junior Player of the Year in 1991-1992, making appearances in the Wyndham Cup from 1990-1993 as a member of the West Team and posted a record of 11-3-2, the best of any boy in the tournament’s history.
All of these big names had to learn to adjust to the spotlight, and how to perform under pressure by playing in tournaments and numerous other competitive events. The 2012 AJGA Junior Open, hosted this year by The Legends Golf Club, is an event for both boys and girls ages 12-18, with a field of 78 players. The match consists of 54 holes in stroke-play format, which makes the Junior Open a prime platform for the young golfers to refine their skill and rack up some wins in the process.
General Manager of The Legends Golf Club, Mark Bland, noted “The AJGA is one of the biggest junior golf organizations in the nation and it’s the first event of that caliber that we’ve had here. It’s really great.” Adam Rogers, an April 2011 Hilton Head graduate, is the AJGA Assistant Tournament Director and because of a relationship between Legends owner Dr. Tim Somerville and Lou Skovron and the AJGA that has spanned over two decades, in May 2011, after PGCC purchased the course, The Legends Golf Club was selected by the AJGA as one of nine Southern California venues.
Though golf is a gentlemanly sport one might think that a three-day tournament with a field of almost 80 12-18 year-olds would be a handful, but not Nick Bland, Head Golf Professional at The Legends Golf Club. In fact, he couldn’t feel more differently.“The AJGA has done such a wonderful job with setting forth high expectations when it comes to etiquette, that all the kids have been well mannered, polite, and gracious towards our staff and volunteers.” In fact, here’s a little-known tidbit that speaks to the caliber of player at the AJGA; every day of competition the AJGA staff asks that each player write a “Thank You” card to the General Manager, Director of Golf, and Head Golf Professional. They also hold a Parents Meeting the night before competition to cover rules and regulations on the event, to include conduct, etiquette, and expectations.
Thank you cards and good etiquette are only part of the impressive display put on by these kids, because one thing is for sure; they’ve got game. Nick Bland is quick to point out that one of his favorite things about the week is the element of spectatorship “My favorite part of this week is seeing wonderful golf being played at such a young age. It is amazing that the golf swings, focus, and mannerisms of these kids closely mimic players on The PGA Tour. Since the Tiger Woods era, golf is being taught to kids at such a younger age now that the talent levels have risen and expectations are higher.”
Golfers aside, the AJGA is serious business and the opportunity to work with them does not go unnoticed, or unappreciated, by the Legends staff. “It has been an educational week working with The AJGA. They have accomplished so much in the world of junior golf and golf competitions that I believe any golf professional can learn from their organization in regards to tournament competition setup, facilitation, and business acumen.” Bland continued, “I am in appreciation of the “mantra” that their team carries to each facility, as each staff member or volunteer, upholds the values and mission of their organization. I in turn, think their employees, would say the same about the team at The Legends Golf Club, and how we are dedicated to host, assist, and carry out a successful event for junior golf.”
Congratulations to the 2012 AJGA Junior Open winners Franklin Huang of Poway, CA, and Chayanid Prapassarangkul of Bangkok!
Franklin posted rounds of 69-69-67, to win the AJGA Junior Open at The Legends at 11-under-par 205. In the Girls Division, Chayanid, carded a three-round total of 8-under-par 208 after shooting 70-68-70.