Champagne Receives AJGA’s Digger Smith Award
Champagne, of Birmingham, Mich., was honored by the
American Junior Golf Association Friday, Feb. 17, with
the 2006 Digger Smith Award after more than a decade
of service to the organization. Champagne, who serves
as President of the AJGA Board of Directors and Detroit
Sales Manager for Golf for Women magazine, was presented
the award at the Digger Smith Banquet during the Association’s
year, the AJGA presents the Digger Smith Award to an
individual whose service to junior golf goes above and
beyond the call of duty. The award is named for AJGA
Chairman of the Board J.R. “Digger” Smith,
who has dedicated himself to the AJGA and junior golf
for more than two decades. Smith was honored as the
Golfweek “Father of the Year” in 1995.
my mind, Gayle Champagne personifies all that this award
represents,” AJGA Executive Director Stephen Hamblin
said. “She clearly understands the AJGA’s
vision and mission and works diligently to further it.
She is a valuable part of this Association and a guiding
light to our Board and staff.”
involvement with the AJGA began in 1992. As national
advertising manager for Golf for Women magazine, she
was integral in the creation of the Golf for Women Girls
Championship, now the Rolex Girls Junior Championship.
In 1995, she joined the AJGA Foundation Board of Directors.
She became a member of the AJGA Board of Directors in
1997 and went on to serve as Vice President from 1999-2003.
She was elected President of the Board in 2003, a position
she holds to this day.
Champagne’s tenure has seen unprecedented innovation. In 2002, The AJGA created the industry’s most revolutionary method to improve pace of play at its events. In 2003, the AJGA abandoned its subjective tournament selection in favor of a Performance Based Entry process. That same year, the Association instituted a program called the Achieving Competitive Excellence Grant, a need-based program to give financial assistance to those players with the talent to play at the national level but lack the financial resources to do so. In 2004, the AJGA secured Rolex Watch USA as the Association’s first-ever Premier Partner. And recently, Titleist agreed to a 10-year extension to its National Sponorship, a distinction it’s held since 1989.