Suits, dresses and heels filed into the Great Hall Conference Center at Sunriver Resort as the doors opened to over 100 juniors at the Rolex Dinner of Champions Wednesday evening. Inside the Great Hall, juniors to spread out and socialized with their fellow competitors. The players put their clubs away for a night to enjoy a dinner of delicious food, great company and to celebrate their fellow contenders Hannah Berman and Nick Leibold.
Hannah Berman of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and Nick Leibold of Littleton, Colorado, received the 2015 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award during the Rolex Dinner of Champions banquet.
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.
The USGA Director of Public Services Beth Major was present to speak to the juniors about the importance of volunteerism. Major shared the example of how over 5,000 volunteers devoted their time during the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay recently.
“Volunteerism is the foundation of the game of golf,” Major said. “The USGA applauses the many AJGA members who have chose to join Leadership Links and focus on giving back to the game of golf through golf, to their communities and the world.”
The AJGA Board of Directors President Jim Nugent introduced Leibold and focused on volunteerism. Nugent’s message fixated on paying back the support the juniors received by paying it forward through giving back to your community.
“There are no better two examples of this than Hannah and Nick,” Nugent said.
Videos of each award recipient played for the audience to get a better idea of what each has done through the AJGA’s Leadership Links program. Berman and Leibold received their awards and gave speeches to thank everyone who have supported them throughout the years.
Berman calculated statistics involving the 144 tournament field size and each player’s capability to shoot an average of three birdies per round to help encourage juniors to get involved.
“If each of you were in the birdies for charity program and raised one hundred dollars donations per birdie, just those of us in this room right now would raise 42,000 dollars,” Berman said.
Leibold said he still feels like a kid who just raises money on his spare time and recognized Nick Johnson from the First Tee and Beth Dockter who has generated over $1 million charities through the AJGA’s Leadership Links program since 2009.
“The real heroes are the people who have dedicated their lives to the helping others,” he said.
Abigail Cantwell of Scottsdale, Arizona, said she thought that everyone at the banquet was enjoying themselves.
“It is so fun for everyone to dress up and it is really a special experience to have all the hard work we do on the course be worth it,” she said.
Matthew Wolfe of Agoura Hills, California, agreed that the banquet was a fun way to spend time with everyone while congratulating Berman and Leibold.
“We are all from different places and we get to know each other a little better which is really cool,” Wolfe said.
As the evening ended, juniors were bunched together taking pictures and wishing each other good luck for the following round. Leibold left the room with one last thought.
“I encourage all of you to take advantage of this great opportunity. Find a charity that you support and reach out to your family and friends for their support and make as many birdies as possible. You’ll be amaze at what you can accomplish.”
If you are interested in Leadership Links, follow the link to find out more.