Hannah Berman, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., was named the female recipient of the 2015 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, the United States Golf Association and American Junior Golf Association announced Tuesday.
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.
“Being recognized is more than I could ask for,” said Berman. “I can’t even put it into words.”
Berman, 17, and male recipient Nick Leibold, of Littleton, Colo., will be honored on June 24 in Sunriver, Ore., during the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Additionally, they will each receive tickets to a future U.S. Open and an automatic entry into the 2015 Rolex Tournament of Champions, one of the world’s most prestigious junior golf events.
About Hannah Berman
The average life expectancy for patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has increased from 17 to 37 in the past three decades, and much of this advancement can be credited to fundraising for research done by people like Hannah Berman. After losing a close family friend to CF, Berman and her family have made it their mission to honor her memory and raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Berman’s relentless volunteerism has also gotten her involved with other charities, including Northwest Behavioral Health Services, Jacksonville Family Promise and the Child Cancer Foundation. In 2014 alone, she volunteered more than 100 hours with these charities.
At the age of 12, Berman started a fundraiser for the CF Foundation at their annual 65 Roses Golf Classic called “Hitting it with Hannah.” For a $20 donation per group, she hits their tee shot on a par 4. “Hitting it with Hannah” has become a big part of that event, and she has raised more than $5,000 for the Foundation over the last five years. She now implements “Hitting with Hannah” several times each year for other charity tournaments, and has raised more than $12,000 in total. Additionally, through her “Birdies for Charity” efforts, she has raised another $11,000 over the last two seasons for the CF Foundation and the AJGA’s Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant.
“It sounds pretty simple at first, but there is also other work that comes with fundraising, especially now that I also do it for other charities,” Berman said. “It’s easy now that the CF players expect me to be there.”
Berman’s efforts don’t stop there. Also at the age of 12, she set up a First Tee Donation Station, at her home course, where members can donate golf clubs, bags, shoes and clothes to kids looking to learn how to play golf who may not have the right tools. One family even donated a golf cart, which was the first electric cart at the Jacksonville First Tee facility.
Berman says her commitment to helping others less fortunate in her community is something that is intertwined in golf’s legacy, as well as her family’s legacy.
“If one person as young as me can make an impact, others will see,” she said. “I want to change the lives of as many people as I can so others will be influenced to do the same.”
Even while volunteering countless hours, Berman has emerged as a competitive junior golfer. Since 2013, she has posted 19 top-10 finishes, and is currently the captain and two-time MVP of the Ponte Vedra High School girls’ golf team.
Berman sometimes wonders if maybe she could have increased her ranking or been considered for bigger tournaments if she took the time she spent volunteering to the golf course. Those feelings subside quickly. “I guess I’d rather save a few lives than save a few strokes,” she said.
Berman could not put the recognition into words, saying “it was more than she could ask for,” but those who work with her say her enthusiasm to help those around her is incredible.
“It’s truly amazing to see a young adult like Hannah, who has been doing this since she was 12, and for no recognition at all, take a leadership role in our community,” said Steven Oswald, executive director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, North Florida chapter.
Berman will graduate in 2016 and says she is looking forward to college, where she can find out who she is and how she can help out in the community.
“I am planning to do this my whole life,” she said. “Why stop when I can keep helping people who need it?”
USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award – Past Recipients
|2014||John Hayden (Birmingham, Ala.)
Dree Fausnaugh (Maitland, Fla.)
|2013||Patrick Cover (Huntersville, N.C.)
Divya Manthena (Camarillo, Calif.)
|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.)
About Leadership Links
Since 2009, the Leadership Links program has helped more than 1,000 junior golfers make a difference in their community by generating more than $1 million in charitable contributions to hundreds of charities and the AJGA's Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant.
Leadership Links is a program that allows the AJGA to further its mission to help develop young men and women by teaching charitable giving skills and service-oriented practices at an early age. This program gives juniors all the tools necessary to donate their time, talent and resources to local charities and the ACE Grant. For more information about Leadership Links, contact Beth Dockter at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ajga.org/LL/Index.asp#Programs.
About the USGA
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s 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 USGA’s 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 game’s history and funds an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” charitable giving program. Additionally, the USGA’s 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.
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 12-18) of more than 6,300 members from 48 states and more than 50 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.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex, which is in its fourth decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 600 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Stacy Lewis, Vicky Hurst, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.