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Juniors continue to change lives through Leadership Links

More than $1 million was raised in 2021 alone
Final 2021 Leadership Links Recap Graphic.png

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The smallest contribution can have the biggest impact on someone's life.

Whether it's raising money for cancer research or teaching a child the value of helping others in the community, junior golfers continue to set the standard for giving back through Leadership Links .

Created in 2009, Leadership Links provides junior golfers with the framework to raise money for charity and get involved in their communities.

Sydney Yermish with Penn-Wynne Overbrook Fire Truck - 2021 Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award Winner.jpg
Not only is Sydney Yermish a junior firefighter at the Penn Wynne Overbrook Hills Fire Company, but she also raised $18,055 for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Yermish's work with Leadership Links was one of the reasons she was honored as a 2021 Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award recipient.

Starting a Leadership Links journey is simple. Junior golfers begin by selecting a benefiting charity along with the AJGA's Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program . From there, the AJGA provides a personalized website, processes all donations and issues tax letters. Finally, a check is mailed to the participant at the end of the program for a charity presentation.

As far as how the money is raised, that's up to each junior. From birdie campaigns to fundraising tournaments, there are plenty of ways to find success. With a little direction from AJGA staff, Leadership Links participants can take their fundraising efforts to the next level, and oh have they ever.

The program has grown exponentially since its creation, leading to one of its biggest years yet. In 2021, 662 participants raised more than $1 million from 6,237 different donations.

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The Carolina Cup was born in 2010 when 12 juniors teamed up to raise $12,000 for charity. Though its leadership, title (originally the Dormie Cup) and venue have changed, this event provided a perfect blueprint for the State Cup Series, which officially launched in 2017. The 2021 Carolina Cup, led by Turner Edwards and Jackson Bode, raised money for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, HV3 Foundation, and the ACE Grant. Since its inception, the Carolina Cup has raised more than $800,000 for charity.

A majority of that total came from the State Cup Series , which features several Ryder Cup style events across the country each year.

What makes the State Cup Series so unique is that junior golfers are responsible for organizing each event. Some notable responsibilities include: finding participants from across the state, selecting a charity, creating a schedule of events, leading a banquet ceremony, and making pairings for the two-day tournament. Each event features 24-32 juniors, with all of them committed to raising a minimum of $1,000 per person to compete.

The State Cup Series had its most successful year yet in 2021, with a total of 14 events taking place over an 11-month period. The series featured events in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas just to name a few.

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Ally Black and Sean-Karl Dobson organized the first Texas Cup in 2021. Proceeds were donated to CapCityKids and the ACE Grant.

Leadership Links participants are out to achieve something greater than themselves, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few perks along the way. Juniors raising money for Leadership Links are eligible for incentives including various golf accessories and equipment.

With more than 3,800 junior golfers having volunteered over 50,000 hours and raising more than $5 million for charity since 2009, it's easy to get caught up on what's been done. Countless lives have already been impacted through Leadership Links, but today's junior golfers are only getting started.

For those interested in making a difference through Leadership Links, please reach out to Beth Dockter at