The Arnold Palmer Invitational Junior honoring Jim Bell received the American Junior Golf Association’s 2019 Game Changer Award.
Each year, the AJGA recognizes top tournaments, committees, and individuals who produce outstanding work during the previous AJGA season in 15 categories. AJGA annual awards distinguish the effort of supporters who make each quality tournament experience possible, and in the Game Changer award highlight events that go above and beyond to make each year a better experience for players and guests.
"The Arnold Palmer Invitational Junior receiving the 2019 Game Changer award means so much to this event and committee. With API coming on as a sponsor, we were able to add some really cool elements to the tournament so that it would be an experience the parents and players would never forget. We would not have been able to do it without our amazing sponsors, committee members and Bay Hill staff. We hope that we can continue to make this tournament an event that players strive to play in each year."
A large part of running a successful AJGA event is the support from the sponsors. The event is lucky to have an amazing sponsor in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, who was very involved in their first year as the title sponsor. Both tournament signage and branding increased during the 2019 event, including having the iconic Arnold Palmer umbrellas as starting tents and driving range signs that were used during the PGA TOUR tournament re-purposed for AJGA juniors.
Despite the uncertainties 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the world, the event at Bay Hill stood strong, hosting 78 juniors in a 54-hole stroke play tournament, where the 2019 Game Changer award was presented during the final round. The AJGA has hosted events at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge since 2004 and returns this year to hold the third Arnold Palmer Invitational honoring Jim Bell.
"The Arnold Palmer Invitational and Bay Hill Club & Lodge continue to improve year after year by providing a first-class experience to AJGA players and their families. The golf course, food and beverage, and overall tournament experience is second to none and we greatly appreciate their support of the AJGA and junior golf.”
In addition to support from the sponsors and club, the tournament would not be successful without a tournament committee who generously dedicates time to the event. In 2019, the event had a full committee. Throughout the week, all volunteer spots were filled, housing and meals were provided for the staff, and water and fruit were provided to players.
AJGA tournaments are annually honored in the categories of hospitality, fundraising, charitable giving, volunteers, engaged media, and social media. The year’s most outstanding golf professional, superintendent and golf course executive are honored alongside the most game-changing overall event, best new event, and top honorees in each tournament ‘series’ (Preview, Junior All-Star, Open and Invitational). Awards are presented on-site during the tournament week.
About Jim Bell
The AJGA Arnold Palmer Invitational now honors the late Jim Bell, a former tournament director of the Bay Hill Invitational, now known as the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Bell held this position with the PGA TOUR for 27 years, starting in the event’s inaugural year of 1979. Additionally, he was an AJGA board member who cared deeply about growing the game of junior golf.
In 2015, Bell passed away. Now, his family keeps his legacy alive by providing support to the AJGA. Not only do they provide support to the Arnold Palmer Invitational honoring Jim Bell by serving on the tournament committee, but also set up the Jim Bell Memorial ACE Grant to ensure every child has an opportunity to play the game he loved.