Brandon Pierce of Covington, La., was named a recipient of the 2012 Presidents Leadership Award, the United States Golf Association and American Junior Golf Association announced Thursday.
The Presidents Leadership Award was created to recognize one boy and one girl 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.
Pierce and girls recipient Cassie Wang of Lenexa, Kan., will be honored and formally presented the award during the Rolex Dinner of Champions, June 28, in Alpharetta, Ga., during the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Additionally, they will each receive four tickets to a U.S. Open in a year of his/her choice, access to the USGA hospitality tent during the U.S. Open, and an automatic entry into the 2012 Rolex Tournament of Champions, one of the worlds most prestigious junior golf events.
Birdies typically influence just one person's scorecard, but Brandon Pierce's birdies have touched the lives of many over the last two years.
In 2010, Pierce founded Brandons Birdies, a fundraising program to raise money for underprivileged children in his local community. Donors pledge money for every birdie he makes during his state, regional and national tournaments. Since its inception, Pierce has raised more than $35,000 for local charities in the New Orleans area.
When a birdie goes into the hole, I always give a little fist pump, Pierce said. But when I take the ball out of the hole, I flash a smile at my mother, knowing that the money raised will help other young people.
Pierce, 17, was inspired as a young golfer on the Fore!Kids Foundation Junior Tour. Since age nine, Pierce has devoted his time each year as a volunteer at the PGA TOUR Zurich Classic of New Orleans, an annual event hosted by Fore!Kids Foundation that makes a major charitable impact on the city of New Orleans.
The Fore!Kids Foundation taught me values, courtesy, sportsmanship and honesty, Pierce said. They helped me grow into the person I am today and I really feel I need to give something back to them.
The Fore!Kids Foundation is one of several beneficiaries of Brandons Birdies. Other charities include The Kelly Gibson Foundation, CP3 Foundation, St. Michaels Special School, Hope House Childrens Advocacy Center and the AJGA Foundation. In 2011, Pierce raised $2,000 for the AJGA ACE Grant program, which was accompanied by a $1,000 donation from the USGA.
This year, Pierce is raising money for Playing fore their Future, a Leadership Links program supported by the Nicklaus Childrens Health Care Foundation and benefiting CureSearch for Childrens Cancer. Pierce has currently raised the second-highest amount for the program. The eight juniors who raise the most are slated to receive an award from Jack Nicklaus during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet in November.
As for the future of Brandons Birdies, Pierce has increased his initial fundraising goal from $40,000, a mark he is already set to pass, to $50,000 raised by the time he graduates high school. He hopes his philanthropic efforts will inspire other young golfers.
I have been extremely blessed in my life being able to pursue my dreams, Pierce said. I am hopeful that by giving back to childrens charities and exemplifying a caring, sharing and positive attitude, it will motivate others to chase their dreams and give back to their communities.
Pierce recently shared his life mantra with The First Tee of Roanoke Valley during the Scott Robertson Memorial Junior Golf Tournament. Later this year, Pierce will address golfers and guests during the Kelly Gibson/Fore!Kids Foundation Junior Tour Awards Banquet.
In the meantime, Pierce will continue doing what he does best making birdies really count.
About the USGA
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Womens Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches. 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 USGAs working jurisdiction comprises the United States, its territories and Mexico.
The USGA is a global leader in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the games history and funds an ongoing For the Good of the Game charitable giving program. Additionally, the USGAs Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries.
For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.
USGA-AJGA Presidents Leadership Award Past Recipients
2012 Brandon Pierce (Covington, La.)
Cassie Wang (Lenexa, Kan.)
2011 John Farese (Sayville, N.Y.)
Natalie Turk (Franklin, Tenn.)
2010 Drew Johnson (Oak Ridge, N.C.)
Jacqueline Calamaro (Newtown Square, Pa.)
2009 Zach Herr (New Hope, Pa.)
Emily Gimpel (Lafayette Hill, Pa.)
2008 Smylie Kaufman (Birmingham, Ala.)
Kelsey Conway (Ventura, Calif.)
2007 Joseph Suarez (Richmond, Va.)
Angela Villela (Sylmar, Calif.)
2006 Adam Michel (Orinda, Calif.)
Katrina Delen-Briones (San Francisco, Calif.)