The American Junior Golf Association presented Thomas Walsh, 16, of High Point, N.C., with the Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award on Sunday at the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet at PGA National Resort & Spa. The honor is bestowed each year to one junior golfer who displays exemplary sportsmanship and integrity in the game of golf.
“I am very proud to receive this award,” Walsh said. “I’ve always thought of myself as a good sport, win or lose. This award encourages me to be an even better sport and to be an example for others.”
The game of golf helped Walsh realize his passion for giving back. Three years ago Walsh, a sophomore at Westchester Country Day School, and fellow junior Patrick Cover of Huntersville, N.C., founded the Dormie Cup, a Ryder Cup-style fundraising tournament held at their home course, the Dormie Club in West End, N.C.
“Golf is a special game,” Walsh said. “An average person can’t just go out and play football. With golf, anyone can play and that is why it is such a great place to help give back. You offer an interest to play and people are always willing to help out.”
In just three years, the Dormie Cup has raised nearly $100,000 for charities including the AJGA ACE Grant, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and Wounded Warriors. The 2011 event tripled the amount raised in its first year, while this year’s tournament raised more than $40,000.
For the first time the event included a junior-am which raised money for The First Tee of Sandhills. The junior-am raised $1,600, a total that will be matched by the USGA.
“Golf has given so much to me that I want to give back to it,” said Walsh, who is a strong supporter of The First Tee. “I’m inspired by people who volunteer and work for The First Tee and teach young kids about the game.”
Walsh continues to look for ways to help others and spread the values he has received from playing golf. He recently started a program to collect golf equipment and clothing for The First Tee of the Triad.
“I enjoy giving back because it is something I need to do,” Walsh said. “Everyone should be out there helping and I hope I inspire others to do so.”