The American Junior Golf Association and the United States Golf Association are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2016 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award.
The USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award was created to recognize one male and one female junior golfer who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program – part of a larger joint initiative founded by the USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism. The recipients of the 2016 USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award will be announced on Monday, May 23, and will be honored at the Rolex Dinner of Champions on Tuesday, June 28, during the Rolex Tournament of Champions in Greensboro, Ga.
The finalists for the 2016 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award are:
Along with his brother, Akhil, Alluri raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network through golf-a-thons. In 2014 and 2015, they raised more than $10,000, and this year’s event has more than $3,000 committed, with a goal of $7,000. Alluri also partnered with doctors in India to provide free eye exams and has raised money to perform 24 cataract surgeries.
Ayala has been heavily involved with The First Tee of Atlanta for six years as a fundraiser and volunteer. In 2013, she was a finalist for the Wells Fargo “Succeeding Together” award and received $2,000 for her local First Tee chapter. The following year she won the award, which came with a $6,000 donation. In addition to helping The First Tee, she also volunteered with the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and the Judson Collegiate Invitational golf events in her area, as well as the Atlanta Falcons Food Drive and Hosea Feed The Hungry events.
For the last six years, Ayala has been an active member of The First Tee of Atlanta. He has helped around the clubhouse, coached junior golfers and helped promote its minority outreach campaign, which has increased minority participation in The First Tee programs. Ayala also won the Coca-Cola Champions Challenge at the annual Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, which provided a donation of $24,000 to The First Tee of Greater Atlanta.
Beechler raises money for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and the AJGA’s Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant. In his family’s restaurant, he sells “Golden Bear Cards,” on which people can inscribe a special message, and he also donates tips he receives to the organizations. In 2015, Beechler raised more than $3,600 through these efforts. In addition, he collects shoes in the community to give to children in need and raised $1,000 in the 2015 Dormie Cup.
Berlin serves as the president of the Youth Advisory Board through a charity called LifeAct, which educates communities about anxiety, depression, suicide and helping those in need. Over the last three years, Berlin has donated more than 360 hours of his time to volunteering and raising money. In the annual LifeAct “Into the Light Walk,” Berlin and his team raised more than $3,200 together, and he raised over $2,200 through the AJGA’s Leadership Links program on his own. In addition, Berlin has volunteered more than 30 hours at his local Key Club and has volunteered over 60 hours and helped his golf team raise money for the Cleveland Clinic ALS Research Program.
After learning her local chapter of The First Tee was funded entirely through local donations, Bookholdt organized a charity golf outing and raised more than $38,000 for The First Tee of Greater Trenton. In addition to the tournament, she held a birdie pledge drive through the AJGA’s Leadership Links Birdies for Charity campaign, calling the initiative “Let Her Rip for Charity!” Participants of the charity event could give a pledge to her Birdies for Charity campaign and she would hit a drive from the forward tee on a par 5 for them. She has raised an additional $3,600, with more to come as she begins her summer tournament schedule.
Harris started a golf program called “Angelica’s Angels” at the Chartwell Center, a school for autistic students ages 4 through 30. Since she started the program in 2015, Harris has mentored students in golf, healthy eating habits and valuable lessons in sportsmanship and competition. The program also helps students by teaching them motor skills and brain development. Harris has raised more than $1,400 for the program and helped expand the program to a child-care center for low-income families. In addition, she volunteers at 10 different local organizations, including the Royal Castle Child Development Center, the Second Harvest Food Bank, the ALS Foundation and The First Tee of Greater New Orleans, where she has volunteered more than 330 hours.
Margaret Hickey, Glencoe, Ill., Class of 2017
Hickey is a participant in the Leadership Links Birdies for Charity program to benefit the Misericordia Home, a program which helps developmentally disabled children and adults live fulfilling lives. She wanted to use her love of the game to help others, and through donations and pledges from family and friends, Hickey raised more than $2,200. Her volunteer work includes helping to create a volunteer board at her school to help the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Through a dance marathon event, Hickey and her classmates at Loyola Academy have raised more than $36,000.
Jones raises money for The First Tee of Hampton Roads through the Leadership Links program. He chose The First Tee because its core values align with his own. Throughout his life, Jones has chosen to give back through whatever sport he was currently playing. These sports have included soccer, basketball and now, golf. He dedicated 2015 to holding a golf-a-thon, which raised more than $6,500 for The First Tee of Hampton Roads.
Along with his sister, Elle, Alec started an organization called “Kids Helping Kids Fight Cancer One Stroke At A Time.” The organization, which raises money for cancer research, is dedicated to their mother, who is a cancer survivor. Alec and Elle organized a golf event in which they partnered with the Don Law Golf Academy and the Morgan Pressel Foundation, raising more than $11,000 for breast cancer research.
Elle and her brother Alec started an organization called “Kids Helping Kids Fight Cancer One Stroke At A Time.” This organization raises money for breast cancer research, Elle’s mother is a breast cancer survivor and is the inspiration for the organization. Elle and Alec organized a golf event which partnered with the Don Law Golf Academy and the Morgan Pressel Foundation. She has raised more than $11,000 for breast cancer research.
Since being diagnosed with cancer at age 10 and beating the disease, Rolle has dedicated himself to supporting other children with cancer. Through the AJGA’s Leadership Links program, Rolle has participated in Birdies for Charity and raised more than $12,000. He also regularly volunteers at a food kitchen and rehabilitation center for homeless men and women in Washington, D.C.
Michael Sanders, Davidson, N.C., Class of 2018
After being invited to play in the Dormie Cup and learning about its need for a new leader, Sanders volunteered to lead the efforts for the annual junior golf fundraising tournament. In 2015, he and his team recruited 23 junior golfers to raise more than $81,000 for the AJGA’s ACE Grant program, Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and The First Tee. Sanders also volunteers with his church in the children’s ministry.
Sumner gives back to her community through volunteering and fundraising with the Southern California Golf Association and the PAP Foundation. The PAP Foundation is dedicated to understanding and treating a rare, debilitating lung condition. Through the AJGA’s Leadership Links program and golf marathon events, she has raised more than $3,400 for these charities. In 2015, Sumner was awarded the AJGA’s Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award for her integrity on and off the golf course. In addition, Sumner volunteers with the Assistance League, which serves the local community through health and human services. She has served on the Assistance League governing board for three years, helping organize and deliver meals for those in need.
After her grandfather passed away due to melanoma, Whitaker used the Leadership Links Birdies for Charity program to raise money for melanoma research and awareness. She wants to educate golfers about the importance of wearing sunscreen and protecting themselves. Through her efforts on the golf course, Whitaker raised more than $8,700 for the Melanoma Research Foundation.
About Leadership Links
Since 2009, the Leadership Links program has helped more than 1,000 junior golfers make a difference in their communities by generating more than $1 million in charitable contributions to hundreds of 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. For more information about Leadership Links, visit www.ajga.org/LL/Index.asp#Programs.
About the USGA
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches, attracting players and fans from more than 160 countries. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, equipment standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The USGA’s reach is global with a working jurisdiction in the United States, its territories and Mexico, serving more than 25 million golfers and actively engaging 150 golf associations.
The USGA is one of the world’s foremost authorities on research, development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and invests in the development of the game through the delivery of its services and its ongoing “For the Good of the Game” grants program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries.
For more information about the USGA, 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 12-18) of nearly 6,500 members from 49 states and more than 50 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-adidas Golf became the AJGA’s National Sponsor in 2016 after more than 25 years of support. Rolex, which is in its fourth decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 600 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Justin Thomas, Stacy Lewis, Vicky Hurst, Alison Lee, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel.