Teaching Kids Life Skills
Golf Digest honors five youth programs
Golf Digest 2011
Junior Development Awards
Since 1984, Golf Digest has identified the premier programs that encourage young golfers. Each year we honor a municipality, a club, an individual, a corporation and an association for their positive impact on juniors.
This year's Junior Development Award winners are teaching kids the skills to become proficient golfers as well as the life skills needed to succeed in the world. "More kids are playing better, and there are more opportunities for them," says Rob Coleman, chief communications officer for the American Junior Golf Association.
Today's juniors are winning at an earlier age. With his victory at the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur, Jim Liu, at 14 years, 11 months and 22 days, became the youngest-ever national champion, breaking the previous record set by Tiger Woods, who was seven months older than Liu when he won the first of his three junior titles.
When Brad Dalke, 13, won the Thunderbird International in May, he made AJGA history as the youngest boy to win an invitational. An eighth-grader in McKinney, Texas, Dalke verbally committed to the University of Oklahoma at age 12.
These talented youngsters can even hold their own against the pros. Two-time U.S. Junior Champion Jordan Spieth challenged the field the past two years at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, finishing T-16 in 2010 and T-32 in 2011.
Girls historically have been the ones making headlines for precocious play. At 13, Alexis Thompson won the U.S. Girls' Junior. Now 16, she has been denied membership on the LPGA Tour because she's too young. Despite that she's good enough to finish ahead of the men as she did in a mini-tour event.
Mariel Galdiano, 13, gained recognition as the youngest contestant at this year's U.S. Women's Open. Although she missed the cut, she was qualifying medalist from her site in Koloa, Hawaii. Even though she's barely a teenager, she has won four Hawaii State Junior Championships.
The Golf Digest Junior Development Awards are intended to inform golfers about exciting programs already in place and inspire them to bring the game to kids in their communities. This year's winners range from the caddie camp at Sankaty Head Golf Club, started in 1930, to Carl Jackson's foundation to keep kids in school. Here are this year's winners: