Gerry Jones Jr. of Suffolk, Va., was named a 2018 recipient of the USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, the USGA and American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) announced Wednesday, May 9.
The USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award honors one male and one female junior golfer annually 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.
“I was a finalist for this award in the past, so to become the recipient is a humbling experience,” Jones said. “It’s not just about golf, but about making an impact on my community. It shows the impact I’ve made and it puts a big smile on my face to see the good coming from the work I’m doing.”
Jones, 17, and Grace Chen of Sunnyvale, Calif., will be honored on June 26 in Liberty Corner, N.J., at the Polo Golf Dinner of Champions at the USGA Headquarters. Additionally, they will each receive tickets to a future U.S. Open and automatic entry into the 2018 Polo Golf Junior Classic, one of the world’s most prestigious junior golf events, at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield, N.J.
About Gerry Jones Jr.
At a young age, Jones became involved in The First Tee program to help him learn golf. The program’s nine core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment stuck with him and proved to have a large impact on his life.
“As I got older I wanted to give back to this organization which has given me so much,” Jones said. “I volunteered to teach young kids what I had learned and I eventually started doing fundraisers. This is my fourth year and every year I do a golf-a-thon. I try to give back as much as I can and represent what the organization stands for.”
Jones’ golf-a-thon has become an annual event that players look forward to each year. Through the event and various other fundraisers he has organized, Jones has raised more than $17,600 for The First Tee of Hampton Roads. In 2016 he joined the Leadership Links program to further his impact.
“As a participant in the Leadership Links program, I know first-hand the difference it has made on my life and the benefit it has been to my local chapter of The First Tee,” Jones said. “It has allowed me to use the game of golf to serve my community for the better.”
In addition to the USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, Jones has received many other honors for his charity work. In 2017 he was awarded the “Outstanding Participant Award” by The First Tee for his continuing efforts to give back to his local chapter. He was also the winner of the 2017 Succeeding Together essay contest sponsored by Wells Fargo.
“It makes me feel very happy to know that my effort is benefiting more than just myself,” Jones said. “It’s benefiting many others and that is emotionally fulfilling. I’m very grateful to have done what I have and to be given the opportunities I have been given.”
USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award – Past Recipients
Grant Fairbairn (Orinda, Fla.)
Haley Bookholdt (Columbus, N.J.)
Daniel Berlin (Chagrin Falls, Ohio)
Angelica Harris (Harvey, La.)
Nick Leibold (Littleton, Colo.)
Hannah Berman (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.)
John Hayden (Birmingham, Ala.)
Dree Fausnaugh (Maitland, Fla.)
Patrick Cover (Huntersville, N.C.)
Divya Manthena (Camarillo, Calif.)
Brandon Pierce (Covington, La.)
Cassie Wang (Lenexa, Kan.)
John Farese (Sayville, N.Y.)
Natalie Turk (Franklin, Tenn.)
Drew Johnson (Oak Ridge, N.C.)
Jacqueline Calamaro (Newtown Square, Pa.)
Zach Herr (New Hope, Pa.)
Emily Gimpel (Lafayette Hill, Pa.)
Smylie Kaufman (Birmingham, Ala.)
Kelsey Conway (Ventura, Calif.)
About Leadership Links
Since 2009, the Leadership Links program has helped more than 2,500 junior golfers make a difference in their communities by generating more than $2.2 million in charitable contributions to more than 2,000 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. Visit www.ajga.org/ll for more.
About the USGA
The USGA celebrates, serves and advances the game of golf. Founded in 1894, we conduct many of golf’s premier professional and amateur championships, including the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open. With The R&A, we govern the sport via a global set of playing, equipment and amateur status rules. Our operating jurisdiction for these governance functions is the United States, its territories and Mexico. The USGA Handicap System is utilized in more than 40 countries and our Course Rating System covers 95 percent of the world’s golf courses, enabling all golfers to play on an equitable basis. The USGA campus in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, is home to the Association’s Research and Test Center, where science and innovation are fueling a healthy and sustainable game for the future. The campus is also home to the USGA Golf Museum, where we honor the game by curating the world’s most comprehensive archive of golf artifacts. To learn more, visit usga.org.
About the AJGA
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018, 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 12-19) of more than 6,900 members from 50 states and 60 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.
TaylorMade-adidas Golf became the AJGA’s National Sponsor in 2016 after more than 25 years of support. Rolex, which is in its fourth decade of AJGA sponsorship, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2017, adidas joined the AJGA as a Premier Partner, serving as the Official Apparel and Footwear of the AJGA.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 900 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson.