Things I've Seen (and done)
from the long, winding AJGA road
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.