volume 4/ issue 9/ 9.21.05
 
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The Things I've Seen (and done)



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The Things I've Seen (and done)
Stories from the long, winding AJGA road
By John Egnot
Manager of Media Relations

For a guy that just finished his third summer with the AJGA (two as an intern, one as full-time), it really is amazing just how much you see in such a fairly short period of time. I guess you could even say that I’m approaching veteran status, since I just wrapped up my 36th AJGA tournament at the Nike Golf Junior Championship. I really can’t dub myself a veteran quite yet, considering I’m only seven months removed from being on the carpet-laying crew in the AJGA’s basement for the association’s annual meeting.

Part of the fun in the summer of 2005 was highlighting scorecards with Communications Interns Dana Gross-Rhode (left) and Andrea Maly (middle) at the FootJoy Boys Invitational.
Throughout any given summer with the AJGA, you’ll rack up a plethora of memories, not only of the incredible places and golf courses you see, but also of the action that you witness on the golf course. It happens to everyone at the AJGA. Every staff member and intern has the things they remember and plenty of stories to tell. And, although I was in attendance at just 10 of the AJGA’s 72 events conducted so far in 2005, there are plenty of memorable moments and that I will take with me (and I still have two more tournaments to go.)

Here are just some of the highlights from one AJGA staffer…and remember that including summer interns, there are almost 90 of us with stories just like these!

Not many people have the chance to drive across the country, let alone do it three times within the span of a year. I did it in March, driving with five others from Atlanta to Patterson, Calif., home to the Ashworth Junior at Diablo Grande. How do six guys keep entertained during nearly three full days in a van, you ask? A lot of Texas Hold ,Em poker and even more music, ranging from my bulging collection of Hootie and the Blowfish albums to Tournament Director Tommy Tangtiphaiboontana’s mega-mixes of Christina Aguilera and Hillary Duff. (By the way, any of you who thought Hootie and the Blowfish was down and out are way off. Their new CD, ‘Looking for Lucky’ is out in stores now and is bound to go platinum.)

After a two-week stint on the west coast, I flew back across the country from Phoenix to Fredericksburg, Va., for the Ashworth Junior at Cannon Ridge. Nothing like going from the desert to having your first round canceled due to rain, and then playing the second round on a rainy, windy, 40-degree day. I did learn, however, that putting hand warmers in your shoes is a valuable trick.

Fast-forward two months to the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic, where your’s truly was pulled over in an Astro van full of people for driving a little too fast on a Tennessee back road. At least I was able to check off “Get pulled over in an Astro van on a Tennessee back road” off my list of things to do before I die. Luckily, I was only given a warning.

The FootJoy Boys Invitational provided plenty of drama, not to mention it was another PGA TOUR golf course to cross off the list. The last few holes were incredible to watch, with Daniel Woltman draining an eagle putt from off the planet on the 15th hole to finally catch Roberto Galletti, Jr. With a huge crowd behind the 18th green, Woltman captured his first AJGA title in a sudden-death playoff.

The bubble-blowing contest between Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout presented by Ingram Park Auto Center Tournament Chairman Mary Carriker (left) and Ben Kimball (right) was just part of the fun that week.
One event I’ll never forget is the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout presented by Ingram Park Auto Center in San Antonio. A week full of laughs culminated when I served as a human lightning magnet when our lightning detection system blew down to watching former Director of Tournament Operations Ben Kimball run a mini-van into a curb after the tournament was over (please take note that the word “former” didn’t appear for this reason…Ben is now working for the USGA).

It was also a blast watching Chief Financial Officer Jason Miller fulfill his life-long quest of figuring out what “La Quinta” means. Turns out it is Spanish for “Free high-speed Internet access.” Who woulda’ thunk it?

Oh yeah…watching Chance Pipitone go bonkers on the back nine at The Dominion Country Club recording six birdies on his way to victory was pretty fun, too.

Who wouldn’t be excited for a trip to Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club? This was my second trip to the home of the PGA TOUR’s Bay Hill Invitational, but this time, I got to get the sticks out. All during my first round there I looked forward to hitting my second shot into the famous 18th green. And then, with one graceful pass at the ball, I fittingly topped my tee shot on No. 18 about 80 yards, forcing me to lay up to the left of the pond. Better luck next time I guess.

It was pretty special watching Kyle Stanley and Josh Jones battle it out over the last two rounds at one of the top courses in the world. It was also pretty special to watch Tournament Director Walker Hill’s all-out panic when the power was knocked out for a night at our host cottage.

Hootie and the Blowfish put a concert on at Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club September 17. Too bad we couldn't hang around any longer!
Then came west coast trip part deux, with my first stop coming at the Family Toyota/Family Honda Junior presented by The First American Corporation. Witnessing James Lee win his fifth AJGA title by 11 shots was pretty exciting, but the way he did it was flat-out amazing. Against one of the best Open tournament fields, Lee finished eagle-eagle to end his AJGA career with an incredible 18-under-par finish. The UCLA men’s golf team is truly in good hands, as James begins his college career there this fall.

Then came the heat, and lots of it, at the Ashworth Junior at Rancho Mirage. After nearly passing out while both working in our trailer and sitting in my golf cart, I watched as the place caught fire, literally, as a brush fire stirred up on the mountain range in the distance. Air conditioning never felt so good!

On the way from Rancho Mirage to the Nike Golf Junior Championship just outside of Portland, Ore., our crew had the privilege of making a pit stop at a place that every golfer should see in their lifetime, Pacific Dunes in Bandon, Ore. I did manage to break 90 (with a sparkling 89), however I also managed to put one ball into a huge hazard…the Pacific Ocean.

A fitting end to the summer of 2005 came with, of course, another cross-country jaunt, this time from Portland back to Atlanta. The trip included a stop in Las Vegas, and ironically, a night at a La Quinta in Amarillo, Texas. It also included more Hootie, as well as the addition of Kelly Clarkson and JoJo to Tommy Tangtiphaiboontana’s mega-mix collection.

Funny how everything seems to come full circle.