Following in the footsteps of many professional golfers’ generosity, junior golfers from around the country combined to raise funds for Houston and the surrounding area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Between donations, individual fundraising efforts by juniors and a birdie-pledging initiative at TPC Sawgrass, junior golfers helped to raise $28,110 so far to support hurricane relief efforts.
Texan Turner Hosch, a University of Oklahoma verbal commit, started the movement with a tweet on August 27. The 16-year-old asked the AJGA for a $10 donation to Houston for every birdie at The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf. The AJGA accepted Turner's challenge, thanks to support from two Houston-area AJGA tournaments and tournament chairmen: the Insperity Invitational / Patrick Reed AJGA Junior Championship presented by Callaway Golf (Bob Lewis and Bob Edwards) and the CB&I / Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods (Chris Dernick and committee).
Additionally, TaylorMade-adidas Golf pledged to match the $10 per birdie at TPC Sawgrass’ THE PLAYERS Stadium Course.
“I’m glad that we made it happen and junior golfers can help make a difference,” Hosch said prior to the event in an interview with Golfweek. “I really think we’ll see some low scores this week because guys aren’t just playing for themselves and their ranking, but they have a community that they are playing for.”
With pledges of $20 per birdie, the 78-player field had a record week in Ponte Vedra Beach. On the 10th anniversary of The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf, 686 combined birdies and eagles were recorded, 71 more than the previous tournament record. The birdie tally raised $13,720 for the American Red Cross between pledges from the AJGA and TaylorMade-adidas Golf. Fittingly, Houston-area native Ben Wong won the event on the same afternoon that fellow Houstonian Stacy Lewis won on the LPGA Tour and donated her winnings to Hurricane Harvey relief. Lewis is on the AJGA’s Foundation Board of Directors and hosts a tournament in June.
Inspired by the efforts from the junior golf community, a donation portal to raise additional funds was setup on the AJGA’s website. In one week, 57 donations came in, totaling $8,240 with 100 percent going to the American Red Cross.
Another AJGA member, Houston’s Ashleigh Stoehr, raised funds for her hometown. Shortly after the 15-year-old’s family was evacuated to San Antonio, she joined the AJGA’s Leadership Links program as a way to share her fundraising goal. In less than a week, Stoehr has surpassed $12,000 and expects to surpass $15,000 after pledges. Stoehr played 100 holes of golf in a “Golf-A-Thon” on Labor Day at Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort outside of San Antonio after receiving support from Director of Golf Matt Reams and members of the course. Half of her funding will go towards the Greater Houston Community Foundation Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund while the remaining half will go to the AJGA’s ACE Grant with priority given to Houston-area members.
“To be from not only Houston, but from Texas, means a lot to me,” said Stoehr. “I feel so incredibly blessed and honored to be able to give back to my community and the victims affected by Hurricane Harvey. Playing 100 holes in one day was nerve-racking, but everyone encouraged me while I was there and helped me to see what giving back looks like and the impact I was making on people.”
The AJGA’s Leadership Links program gives juniors all the tools necessary to donate their time, talent and resources to local charities and the ACE Grant. Since 2009, Leadership Links has raised over $1.8 million and supported more than 1,500 charities.
“When we created the AJGA’s Leadership Links program, we were hopeful that many juniors would want to get involved and experience the joys of giving back,” said AJGA Executive Director Stephen Hamblin. “Turner and Ashleigh’s effort to raise funds for those suffering in Houston clearly illustrates the power a few kind-hearted people can have in helping a community in need.”
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 12-19) of more than 6,600 members from 50 states and 55 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 sponsorship, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2017, adidas joined the AJGA as a Premier Partner, serving as the Official Apparel and Footwear of the AJGA.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 830 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, Ariya Jutanugarn, Alison Lee, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel.