USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award Finalists and Honorable Mentions
The American Junior Golf Association and the USGA are pleased to announce the honorable mentions and finalists for the 2020 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, which recognizes aspiring elite junior golfers for their hard work to give back to their communities.
The USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award honors one male and one female junior golfer annually who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program: a joint initiative founded by the USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.
The finalists for the 2020 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award are:
Charlie Creamean of Winnetka, Illinois, Class of 2021
After his younger brother spent time at Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, Creamean was inspired to raise money for the hospital through the AJGA's Leadership Links program, and has raised $4,300 for charity. Creamean has volunteered over 150 hours as a founding member of the Chicago North Shore Chapter of Bunkers in Baghdad, a non-profit organization that collects golf balls, clubs and golf equipment to send to United States troops abroad. He led their chapter to earn the Dick Nelson Commitment to Service Award, presented by the President of Bunkers in Baghdad. Creamean most recently raised over $1,000 for the charity in February when he organized a game night fundraiser with food and raffle prizes.
Sean-Karl Dobson of Austin, Texas, Class of 2022
Cap City Kids was originally established by Dobson's parents as Austin, Texas, was flooded with refugees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, placing a heavy burden on schools with growing numbers of students. Having grown up alongside the organization, he understands its great mission and purpose to provide school supplies, food and clothes to children in need. He has raised over $50,000 for the charity directly from donations, events and playing golf. He has also raised $1,800 for Cap City Kids through the Leadership Links program. He has logged numerous hours of volunteerism for the charity and was due to co-host the 2020 Texas Cup in the State Cup Series prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Savannah Hylton of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Class of 2021
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Hylton knew she had to do something to lend a helping hand and be a light in her community. She raised money through GoFundMe and started making goodie bags for local medical staff and first responders. She called it Smiles for Hilton Head Heroes and logged over 40 hours volunteering and bringing joy to essential workers in her community. Prior to the pandemic, Hylton served as a mentor at The First Tee, was a member of the professional staff at Harbour Town Golf Links and volunteered with the Brain Balance Achievement Centers.
Bo Maradik of Nashville, Tennessee, Class of 2022
As the co-founder of the Tennessee Cup, Maradik has personally raised $3,500 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, The Snedeker Foundation and the ACE Grant. He has helped lead the tournament to raise over $60,000, in addition to securing a golf course and establishing the first co-ed State Cup series event. Maradik has contributed over 100 volunteer hours between time for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, his high school community service projects and his church.
Dalton Payne of Estero, Florida, Class of 2023
As an AJGA ACE Grant recipient, Payne has strived to give back to the game of golf that has given so much to him. He has raised $5,000 through Leadership Links for Stoneybrook Junior Golf to establish a college scholarship fund for the junior golfers in the Stoneybrook community and help lower the costs associated with enrolling with Stoneybrook Junior Golf. He created a fundraising tournament with 88 participants, 25 hole sponsorships and 50 different raffle prizes. He has also volunteered 120 hours to raise over $3,700 for Candlelights of SWFL, a local charity that helps families and children with cancer and blood disorders.
Esther Wu of Saratoga, California, Class of 2022
Issues with her vision led Wu to play golf and inspired her to give back to others with special needs and disabilities. She has spent 50 volunteer hours helping with a special needs dance class. Not only does she teach children one on one the skills needed to complete the routine, but she teaches them how to socialize with one another and have patience. She has also volunteered with New Visions of Tomorrow, playing with visually impaired children at playgrounds and at home. In addition to her passion for volunteerism, Wu has been apart of raising $30,000 for AJGA tournaments and the ACE Grant, including $8,000 on her own accord.
Gabriel Yang of Saratoga, California, Class of 2021
Yang has collaborated with two other juniors to raise $30,000 for AJGA tournaments and other local charities in their areas. He developed a plan and presentation for companies to get involved in their fundraising efforts and made personal presentations and networked in order to garner support. In addition to monetary donations, he also organized book drives to collect books for local schools in addition to completing a project to provide books to an African elementary school in Botswana.
Ashley Yen of Houston, Texas, Class of 2022
When her brother had consistent success at the Joy School, a non-traditional school for children with learning disabilities, Yen wanted to do what she could to give back to the program that was giving her family so much. Through Leadership Links, she has raised nearly $1,500 for the scholarship fund at the Joy School. Her experience with her brother's education prompted her to find other ways to provide children of various backgrounds with different educational resources. She founded Kits 2 Kids, a non-profit organization that provides disadvantaged children, hospitalized children and young girls with portable STEM kits to develop an interest in the field. She has donated over 1,000 kits to hospitals, YMCAs and schools.
Sophie Zhang-Murphy of Saratoga, California, Class of 2022
Zhang turned her active pursuit of golf into donations to charity. She has been a part of a group of friends that raised over $30,000 for AJGA tournaments and the ACE Grant. She also raised $3,000 for the Massachusetts General Hospital - Detect Ovarian Cancer Early organization and $7,200 for the Pacific Academy Foundation all through monetary pledges based on the number of birdies she made in tournaments. Zhang's philanthropic pursuit did not just start in golf, but began when she was 13 and living in China. She raised $15,000 in one summer to help children in orphanages receive the medical treatment they needed.
Turner Edwards of Charlotte, North Carolina, Class of 2022
John Guerrera of Unionville, Connecticut, Class of 2021
Joseph Ajax LaNasa of Palm Beach, Florida, Class of 2021
Calen Sanderson of Newtown, Pennsylvania, Class of 2022
Eli Sherman of Glencoe, Illinoi, Class of 2021
Kimberly Shen of Johns Creek, Georgia, Class of 2022
About Leadership Links
Since 2009, the Leadership Links program has helped more than 2,500 junior golfers make a difference in their communities by generating more than $2.2 million in charitable contributions to more than 2,000 charities and the AJGA's Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant.
Leadership Links is a program that allows the AJGA to further its mission to help develop young men and women by teaching charitable-giving skills and service-oriented practices at an early age. This program gives juniors all the tools necessary to donate their time, talent and resources to local charities and the ACE Grant. Visit www.ajga.org/ll for more.
About the USGA
The USGA celebrates, serves and advances the game of golf. Founded in 1894, we conduct many of golf’s premier professional and amateur championships, including the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open. With The R&A, we govern the sport via a global set of playing, equipment and amateur status rules. Our operating jurisdiction for these governance functions is the United States, its territories and Mexico. The USGA Handicap System is utilized in more than 40 countries and our Course Rating System covers 95 percent of the world’s golf courses, enabling all golfers to play on an equitable basis. The USGA campus in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, is home to the Association’s Research and Test Center, where science and innovation are fueling a healthy and sustainable game for the future. The campus is also home to the USGA Golf Museum, where we honor the game by curating the world’s most comprehensive archive of golf artifacts. To learn more, visit usga.org.
About the AJGA
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls, ages 12-19) of more than 6,900 members from 50 states and 60 foreign countries. Through initiatives like the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, a financial assistance program, and Leadership Links, a service-oriented platform that teaches juniors charitable-giving skills, the AJGA fosters the growth of golf’s next generation.
TaylorMade and adidas are the AJGA’s National Sponsors, supporting the AJGA for more than 25 years. TaylorMade has served as the Official Ball of the AJGA since 2016. adidas has been the Official Apparel and Footwear of the AJGA since 2017. Rolex, in its fourth decade of AJGA sponsorship, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 900 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson.