By Steve Ethun
VP of Communications
Bruce Slovitt was posthumously honored during the American Junior Golf Association’s Annual Meeting Friday, Feb. 16, with the AJGA’s Digger Smith Award. An AJGA parent, tournament chairman and fundraiser since 1995, Slovitt, of Winnetka, Ill., was tragically killed in an automobile accident near his home in suburban Chicago July 9, 2006, at the age of 54.
The Digger Smith Award, which has been presented annually since 1991, praises an AJGA advocate for his/her longtime service and dedication to junior golf. Recipients are devoted to the AJGA Mission and Purpose of developing young men and women through competitve junior golf. Award winners not only set a standard for excellence, but they also continue to raise expectations year-in and year-out.
The award is named in honor of current AJGA Chairman of the Board J.R. “Digger” Smith, who has dedicated himself to the AJGA and junior golf for more than three decades.
Slovitt’s first experience with the AJGA came almost 12 years ago as a parent. In the years to follow, he would help guide three of his five children through the AJGA as they competed in a combined 40 events.
In 2000, he took over the duties as tournament chairman and main fundraiser for the AJGA’s Chicago-area events. In seven years, he captained 10 successful tournaments and helped raise nearly $500,000 for local Chicago junior golf programs and the AJGA Foundation.
“I just enjoy giving kids the opportunity to see and play golf at a high level,” Slovitt told the AJGA in September 2005.
Throughout his years of involvement, his motivation never wavered. His goal was to help Chicago junior golfers showcase their skills for college golf scholarships. In doing so, Slovitt was credited with pioneering the junior golf movement in the Chicagoland area in the late 1990s by cultivating a relationship with the AJGA. He also ascended to vice president of the Illinois Junior Golf Association and served as a board member for the Chicago District Golf Association.
Slovitt is survived by his wife, Bernadette, and his five children – Jennifer Strielgel, Philip, Matthew, Michael and Jimmy. All six were in attendance to accept the award on his behalf.
Each year during the Annual Meeting’s Digger Smith Banquet, the AJGA presents the Digger Smith Award and recognizes the tournaments with the best individual efforts in the categories of media, junior-am fundraising, volunteer support and hospitality. At this time the Association also awards its golf professional of the year and tournaments of the year.