May 15, 2012
“Bradley Johnson is going to be a star golfer someday,” a
neighbor said to John Hayden, then nine years old. “He’s coming up No. 14 right
Hayden, just starting to gain interest in the game of
golf, ran from his home near Graystone Country Club (Birmingham, Ala.) to catch
a glimpse of the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up. Little did he know, that
glimpse would be one of the last that he would see of the promising young
talent in Johnson.
“I brought a golf ball over to Bradley and asked him to
sign it,” reflected now 16-year-old Hayden. “He kind of laughed, then smiled
and signed the ball.”
A few weeks later, Johnson’s life was tragically cut
short in a two-car accident. Johnson, just shy of making a college decision,
left behind unfinished dreams and a younger brother Michael who helped
establish Birdies for Bradley. Michael’s vision, along with the help of other
family members, was to create a fundraiser through the AJGA’s Leadership Links
program that benefitted the Bradley Johnson Memorial Foundation and the ACE
Michael, a two-time AJGA champion, is now playing golf at
Auburn, but looks to younger AJGA juniors to continue the Birdies for Bradley
program. It didn’t take much to convince Hayden.
Hayden has only participated in a few Qualifiers so far
and yet his contributions to the Birdies for Bradley program via Leadership
Links are significant.
“I’m almost to the $1,000 mark,” Hayden said. “It’s been
really easy to raise the money and it’s for a great cause. I’m just really
trying to keep the spirit of Bradley alive because I’ve never heard a bad thing
about him. He was a class act and I’m striving to model myself after him.”
Hayden looks forward to raising more funds for the
Birdies for Bradley program in 2012. He will most likely participate in his
first AJGA tournament this summer and hopes to rack up the birdies.
“I’m not only focusing on birdies to help me post a good
score, but the Leadership Links program will turn those birdies into money for
a good cause.”
For more information about the AJGA Leadership Links
program please visit: http://www.ajga.org/LL/Index.asp
juniors participating in the Birdies for Bradley program will qualify for the
USGA matching fund for up to $1,000 raised. Alabama residents participating
will get a 100% match.