Dallas Businessman Lends Financial Suport to AJGA ACE Grant

Tom Barton to join Rolex Watch USA as a Founding Partner

BRASELTON, Ga. – Tom Barton of Dallas has made a five-year commitment to help fund the American Junior Golf Association’s Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, the AJGA announced Wednesday. The goal of the ACE Grant is to give top-flight golf opportunities to young golfers regardless of financial resources. This program helps fulfill the AJGA’s mission of developing young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.

Barton, a financial advisor, joins Rolex Watch USA as a Founding Partner of the ACE Grant, enabling the program to aid approximately 25 juniors in 2004. The grant was piloted and funded through Barton and other private donors during the 2003 season, helping 12 golfers play in AJGA events in which they otherwise may not have attended. Through the benevolence of Barton, Rolex and private donors, the program will continue to grow until it is able to support all deserving young golfers.

“The ACE Grant is one of the most important initiatives the AJGA has ever undertaken,” said AJGA Executive Director Stephen Hamblin. “With the support of Mr. Barton, Rolex Watch USA and other donors, aspiring young golfers have an opportunity to gain exposure for a college golf scholarship even if they do not have the financial means.”

Four years ago, Hamblin and Barton discussed the need for a financial assistance program because it was apparent that there were junior golfers who were talented enough to compete at the national level, but did not have the financial backing. After much research on other grant programs, and with the guidance of many people such as Barton, the AJGA piloted the program in 2003.

“In thank you notes I received from juniors in the program last year, I saw cases where both parents had lost their jobs, a parent had passed away, or a single mother was struggling to make ends meet,” Barton said. “The kids showed tremendous appreciation for the ability to continue their play with the AJGA in light of their difficult family circumstances. I am pleased to join Rolex Watch USA as one of the ACE Grant Founding Partners.”

The AJGA’s Web site – ajga.org – is where juniors can find a list of costs covered by the program and instructions on how to apply. Once the application is received and the financial situation of the family is ascertained, the ACE Grant Committee will select those who qualify for the program and determine the amount of assistance for which they are eligible. The grant process and tournament application process are separate; juniors must still gain entry into an event based on their own merits through the AJGA Performance Based Entry process.

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. As the largest association of its kind, the AJGA has a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.

Titleist, the AJGA’s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association’s success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.

AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.

For more information, please contact Tonya Oskarson (toskarson@ajga.org) in the Communications Department at (877) 373-2542.