The American Junior Golf Association and the United States Golf Association are pleased to announce the 2022 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award finalists.
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 – a joint initiative founded by the USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.
The finalists for the 2022 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award are:
Ryan Banas of Winnetka, Illinois (2023)
Banas co-founded the Junior Chicago Cup, a State Cup Series event where junior golfers gain entry into the team match-play tournament via fundraising. The first Junior Chicago Cup was held in 2021 with 32 participants. A total of $65,000 was raised for the Misericordia Heart of Mercy, Illinois Junior Golf Association and the AJGA's ACE Grant program. Misericordia was the first charity to come to mind when Banas started planning the Junior Chicago Cup. The non-profit offers a community of care that maximizes the potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities. Since he was in seventh grade, Banas has spent time with residents, done art projects with them, helped set up holiday decorations and cleaned up at the annual fair. Banas has never seen any of this as work. After caring for his sister who has Cerebral Palsy and is profoundly deaf, Banas noticed that no matter the challenges life throws at his sister, she takes everything on with a smile on her face. This has inspired Banas to bring people together in any way he can. That's why he invited residents from Misericordia to come out to the 2022 Junior Chicago Cup and cheer on the golfers. The 2022 edition of the event raised more than $60,000 for these causes. Bansas personally raised $5,225 in 2021 and $7,700 in 2022.
Hampton Beebe of West Palm Beach, Florida (2027)
Between fundraising and volunteering his time, Beebe has played an important role in changing lives. Beebe raised $5,500 for the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation as part of his participation in the 2021 Florida Sunshine Cup. After seeing the impact a charity golf event can have, Beebe signed on for another tournament, this time raising money for the Hanley Foundation, which provides help to those affected by substance abuse. That tournament raised more than $100,000 for the cause. From there, Beebe sought out to make more personal connections in his community. That's why he began volunteering at his local First Tee chapter. Each Thursday Beebe assists with a golf lesson for a group of disabled veterans who come to the course to learn golf and spend time together. Some of the veterans have physical disabilities, while others have PTSD. Beebe not only assists with the lessons, but he gets there early to prepare the lessons and then stays late to clean up. Hitting balls on the range with these veterans has given Beebe a new perspective on life, and it's also pushed him to want to do more.
Jai Chachra of Los Angeles, California (2024)
The rise of cryptocurrency has led Chachra to consider other ways to help others. In fact, Chachra created a Donor Advised Fund named the Inspiring Tides Foundation. He did this to inspire other junior golfers to start helping the less fortunate, all the while raising money to help in the fight to end childhood hunger and homelessness. To date, Chachra has raised $100,000 by pledging a portion of his cryptocurrencies and taking pledges from family and corporate sponsors. All of that money will be donated to various charities identified by winners of a virtual charity golf event that he is creating with the help of his parents and other entities. Even with his focus on virtual efforts, Chachra still finds the time to support his local community. Since 2017, Chachra has supported the Charmaney’s Place of Refuge Resource Center, which fights to save at-risk children from getting lost either to the system or local gangs. Chachra has helped the cause by sponsoring and funding the Thanksgiving dinner which is hosted for homeless kids and their families. Knowing it's easy to just write a check, Chachra took the initiative of ordering all of the food items and personally delivering them as well.
Matthew Lin of Orinda, California (2024)
Lin supported All Stars Helping Kids by using social media to increase awareness for underprivileged children in San Francisco, all while raising more than $30,000 ($20,000 of which came through his Leadership Links campaign) for the organization. He then worked to connect All Stars Helping Kids with other Northern California junior golf programs to help create new annual scholarships. Lin also dedicated his time to CityTeam over the past four years, which included regularly serving and delivering to the city's homeless.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Lin has worked with his community to raise awareness for the local women's shelter and to collect clothing and furniture.
Rafe Cochran of Palm Beach, Florida (2023)
Making a difference in the lives of others has always been important to Cochran. At just nine years old, he began taking pledges for birdies he made in local tournaments, raising a total of $18K for local families in need. After two years of taking pledges, Cochran set his sights on making a global impact. In 2016 he created the Rafe Cochran Golf Classic, a charity tournament benefitting Food for the Poor. The nonprofit provides food, medicine, and shelter to the poor in Latin America and the Caribbean. In just six years, the Rafe Cochran Golf Classic has raised over $500K. In total, his tournament proceeds funded the construction of ten double unit homes in Haiti and four schools in Jamaica. His commitment to service then took him to these countries between 2017 and 2019, where he helped build those homes and schools. In addition to assisting with the construction process, Cochran met with local students to discuss his efforts and to motivate them to become more creative and active within their own communities. After the construction of the schools was finished, Cochran would deliver the inaugural address at the opening ceremony. Cochran has also participated in the last two Atlantic Cup raising a total of over $8,000 over the last two years.
Mack Edwards of Charlotte, North Carolina (2025)
Mack and his brother Turner have carried on the legacy of the Carolina Cup, the first State Cup Series event in AJGA history. Before taking ownership of the Carolina Cup, the brothers each got the chance to participate in the event. Seeing the camaraderie the tournament provided and how everyone banded together to raise as much money as possible for charity was something that stuck with the brothers. That's why they didn't hesitate when the time came for someone to take the reigns. The event has only gotten stronger under their leadership, as the Harold Varner III Foundation was added to the list of benefiting charities in 2021, joining the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation and the AJGA's ACE Grant. The brothers raised more than $70,000 alone in 2020 and 2021. Mack will run the event in 2022.
Turner Edwards of Charlotte, North Carolina (2022)
Older brother Turner has participated in the Carolina Cup since 2019. Turner raised $11,000 in his first year, and followed that up by raising more than $13,000 with Mack in 2020. Turner took over the leadership of the event with past captain Jackson Bode in 2021. Turner helped to add Harold Varner III to the event. He worked with Mack to take their fundraising to the next level. After putting in endless hours of work reaching out for support and organizing the tournament, the brothers got to see the fruits of their labor as they alone raised more than $56,000. The tournament itself raised more than $170,000 in 2021. Interested in making a difference outside of golf, Turner took a trip in September of 2021 with his classmates to rural Appalachia to complete a three-day service project. As part of the project, Turner helped rebuild and repair deteriorated houses in the area. As one of the poorest regions in the nation, this was a major benefit to those in the region.
Robert Gefaell of Winstom-Salem, North Carolina (2023)
Golf is a game that can be fun and frustrating, but more important than that, it's a game that can change lives. Gefaell has learned that in a few different ways. First, Gefaell and his friends, nicknamed The Old Town 5, came together in 2020 and 2021 to participate in the PGA Carolinas 100 Holes of HOPE competition. The team raised $18,639 and $33,578, respectively. The team also won the competition in both years they participated. The organization introduces veterans to the game of golf and provides a developmental six to eight week program. In addition, it provides veterans with disabilities adaptive ways to play golf. By participating in 100 Holes for HOPE, Gefaell also raised awareness for the program in the Carolinas and honored the nation's military. After seeing what golf fundraisers can do, Gefaell signed on for the 2021 Carolina Cup, a State Cup Series event where junior golfers raise money as entry into a team match-play tournament. Gefaell contributed $6,000 to the causes, which were the HV3 Foundation, the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation and the AJGA ACE Grant program. The total raised by the 32 participants was $173,000. Gefaell also supported the First Tee of Central Carolina by working with his golf team to host an equipment drive and clinic for young golfers.
Fisher Kennedy of Winstom-Salem, North Carolina (2023)
Actions speak louder than words, and Kennedy is a shining example of that. Over the past two years, Kennedy has participated in the PGA Carolinas 100 Holes for HOPE program, which provided the opportunity to play with U.S. veterans while raising money and awareness for problems that veterans face. Kennedy and his friends raised more than $50,000 for the PGA REACH program, which helps veterans find a way to connect with other veterans through the game of golf. The money was used to invite more members to join the local chapter and to purchase special modified equipment for disabled veterans. Kennedy has also fought for golfers at his school as well. Upon finding out that his district was planning on cutting the middle school golf program, Kennedy immediately began planning a clinic with the high school golf team. They teamed up with the First Tee of Central Carolina to host a clinic for 10- to 14-year-old students in the area. Local school golf coaches, Athletic Directors, and principals were invited to attend. The clinic was attended by 25 young golfers, and a joint equipment drive generated more than 400 clubs and multiple golf bags. Not satisfied with those efforts, Kennedy also finds time to make grab-and-go bags for family members who are staying at the houses of family members who are in the hospital. Kennedy delivers about 30-40 bags each month.
Zachary Munno of Stamford, Connecticut (2024)
The COVID-19 pandemic opened Munno's eyes to the disparity in opportunities for different groups in his community. Instilled with a volunteer mentality through his family and school, Munno set out to make a difference however he could. Most people start out small, but Munno had bigger goals in mind. That's why he worked with the AJGA to create his own State Cup Series event, the Metro Cup. Knowing golf has traditionally been a sport of privilege with limited participation, Munno wanted to show others how the game can be used as a force for good. That's why he chose to not only volunteer his time at The Bridge Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich and the Met PGA Junior Foundation, but to make those organizations benefiting partners of the Metro Cup. The inaugural Metro Cup was held in 2020 and returned in 2021. Over the course of two years, the Metro Cup raised nearly $25,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich and approximately $12,000 for the Met PGA Junior Foundation. Nearly $25,000 was donated to The Bridge Foundation in 2021 alone. The fundraising alone was impressive, but Munno wasn't done there. He asked students at The Bridge Foundation to help organize and run one of the days during the Metro Cup. Munno wanted the students to get real-world experience running a professionally managed event.
Sofia Ghorbel of New Canaan, Connecticut (2022)
A dedicated student and empowered self-starter, Ghorbel has mastered her time management skills. Between school, golf and fundraising, Ghorbel has worked out the formula to finding success in each of those areas. Driven to excel in both academics and athletics, Ghorbel has the goal to "have the highest academic grades and the lowest golf scores." As far as the classroom is concerned, Ghorbel has done just that with a 4.17 GPA. Not satisfied with just making good grades, Ghorbel set out to make a difference in her community. She did just that by creating a golf tournament fundraiser in collaboration with the Golf Performance Center Foundation. Ghorbel raised nearly $4,000 over two months for the ACE Grant and Save the Children, a humanitarian organization dedicated to providing children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.
Amanda Phillips of New York, New York (2024)
Five years ago Phillips was awarded the Morrison Medal when she played in the 2017 USKG European Van Horn Cup in Scotland. Inscribed on the back of the medal is the following sentiment: "In the hope you will always do your very best on the golf course and that you will strive to make a difference to the lives of others in your community." The former chess player turned competitive golfer took the words to heart, and set out to help those less fortunate. This desire to help others led Phillips to the Metro Cup, a State Cup Series tournament where junior golfers earn entry into the event through fundraising. Phillips raised more than $2K for the ACE Grant and other charities through her participation. Still eager to do more, Phillips and one of her friends decided to create their own fundraising tournament, the Lady Liberty Cup, which will take place April 30 - May 1, 2022, at Liberty National Golf Club. All proceeds will be donated to Minds Matter NYC, an organization that mentors high-achieving, low-income high school students who have the potential and ambition to pursue a college education, but lack the resources to achieve that dream.
Madeline Bante of Englewood, California (2024)
In 2021 alone, Bante raised more than $14K for the First Tee - Colorado Rocky Mountains and the ACE Grant. That money will help provide scholarships for teenagers to go to college, free tuition for children to attend First Tee programs, and allow young adults the opportunity to play in AJGA tournaments. Though a majority of Bante's community service and fundraising efforts have been focused on golf, she's found a way to help others outside of golf as well. Bante became a member of the National Charity League, where she helped on a Joy International project and volunteered countless hours at The Food Bank of The Rockies.
Darrelyn Webster of Austin, Texas (2023)
Instilled with a passion for giving back, Webster has sought to help others from a young age. The Austin native first volunteered through her childhood church, participating in activities like food sorting at The Central Texas Food Bank and the Mobile Loaves and Fishes. After joining the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in middle school, Webster sought to make an even bigger impact. She got that opportunity through junior golf. Webster has made the most of her two years participating in the Texas Cup, raising nearly $15K for the ACE Grant and CapCityKids, a non-profit organization created to help children facing homelessness beat the odds and receive a quality education.