Year in and year out, a handful of golf courses resonate as stalwarts on the American Junior Golf Association’s schedule. This year marks the return of one of those courses as the AJGA adds The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center to its schedule for the annual Easter Weekend event in Texas.
“TaylorMade-adidas is synonymous with The Woodlands,” says AJGA Vice President of Operations Bobby Powell.
After a four-year absence, the AJGA will return to The Woodlands April 9-11 for one of its three Easter Weekend events. The facility served as the site of the AJGA’s first Easter event from 1985 until 1999, before a redesign of the course forced the AJGA to find a new home for one of its longest-running events.
"We kept in touch with them while the renovations were under way because we always wanted to go back to The Woodlands,” Powell says. “Once the schedule and renovations fell into place, it was a no-brainer. It’s such a mutually beneficial relationship.”
The tournament’s resume reads like a who’s who of golf with past Girls Division champions such as Cristie Kerr, Grace Park, Emilee Klein, Kellee Booth and Candie Kung. Before moving on to bigger accomplishments in their careers, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, David Duval and Bob May all competed at The Woodlands.
The AJGA last held its Easter event at The Woodlands in 1999 before the resort undertook a massive renovation of what was then called the North Course. Following a longer-than-expected overhaul of the course, scheduling conflicts prevented the AJGA from returning to its destination of choice in the Lone Star State. The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center played host to the Shell Houston Open for 17 years and utilized the Panther Trail Course as one of its Pro-Am courses, thus extending the AJGA’s absence.
During the final AJGA event there before the redesign, Candie Kung and Leigh Anne Hardin produced one of the wilder finishes in tournament history when they battled through six sudden-death playoff holes. The duo entered the event ranked first and second in national junior rankings—and proceeded to prove the labels were well deserved. The juniors each scrambled to make pars on the first five playoff holes before Kung drained a 10-foot birdie putt to secure the title—her second straight Easter Weekend win at The Woodlands.
Will the first year back at the renowned facility yield similar excitement?
With a dramatic finishing hole awaiting would-be champions, anything is possible. An island green lies at the end of the 18th hole, a 429-yard, par-4 framed by greenside and fairway bunkers.
“That’s going to be a fun finishing hole,” Powell says. “Even if you hit a good drive, you still have 180 yards to an island green. I hope it’s a tight finish because it will be exciting to watch.”
The new Panther Trail boasts small undulating greens, large greenside and fairway bunkers, gently rolling fairways and tall Carolina Pine trees lining every hole. Unique to Panther Trail are vast areas of native vegetation.
“You won’t find anything in this area like Panther Trail with all the native grasses and wildflowers,” says Dean Choate of The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center.
TaylorMade-adidas’ involvement will again be paramount to the success of the event. Participants will receive adidas golf shoes, compliments of the tournament sponsor, and the TaylorMade van will be on site with the manufacturer’s latest equipment.
For more information, please contact Joe Mazzeo in the AJGA Communications Department at (770) 868-4200, ext. 789.