By Tim Jackman (@AJGAJackman), AJGA Communications
Wyndham Worldwide has a deep tradition of supporting golf, both at the professional and junior golf level. As this week’s Wyndham Championship begins, one particular competitor in the field, Michael Johnson, is thrilled to be competing in his fourth PGA TOUR event at a venue he competed at in his junior career, but this is more than just another professional start.
In 2006, Michael’s older brother Bradley was returning home from a junior golf tournament. His car collided with a tractor trailer and Bradley was tragically killed. He was at the pinnacle of his junior golf career, coming off a runner-up finish at the US Junior Amateur, being named a Rolex Junior All-American and was in the process of choosing the college he was going to play for. This tragic loss inspired the family to start the Bradley Johnson Memorial Foundation with the mission of providing financial resources to junior golfers, so they can compete and earn a college scholarship.
As Michael followed in Bradley’s footsteps, becoming a top ranked junior golfer, his desire was to use the game to honor his brother. In 2010, Michael launched Birdies for Bradley in the pursuit of endowing an ACE Grant in Bradley’s name. The American Junior Golf Association’s ACE Grant Program provides financial assistance to junior golfers that have the ability to play at the national level, but lack the financial resources to do so.
Michael quickly began receiving pledges for every birdie he made. In 2011, Michael’s relationship with Wyndham began. Following a standout year in which he played at Sedgefield Country Club, claiming an eighth-place finish in what is now known as the Haas Family Invitational, was named a first-team Rolex Junior All-American and signed a National Letter of Intent with Auburn, he was invited to represent the East Team in the AJGA’s Wyndham Cup. The Wyndham Cup is a Ryder Cup-style event, pitting the top players from the East verses their counterparts from the West. Michael reached out to Wyndham Worldwide as well as players from both sides and asked for their involvement in achieving his goal to honor his brother.
Michael, his fellow teammates and competitors as well as Wyndham Worldwide raised over $20,000. Through a matching gift from the USGA, more than $30,000 was raised in support of Michael’s dream to complete the $100,000 endowment, and more importantly, leave a legacy in Bradley’s name. On a yearly basis at least one junior golfer from the state of Alabama receives the Bradley Johnson Memorial ACE Grant and the opportunity to earn a college scholarship.
As Michael competes this week, he will no doubt have his connection with Wyndham and more specifically his brother, on his mind.