The American Junior Golf Association honored Michael Sanders, 16, of Davidson, North Carolina, with the Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award on Sunday at the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet at PGA National Resort & Spa. The honor is bestowed each year to one junior golfer who displays exemplary sportsmanship and integrity in the game of golf.
Since he took the reins of The Carolina Cup in 2014, Sanders has grown the event into more than a competition amongst the best junior golfers in North Carolina. His efforts have brought community service and giving back to the forefront. The more than $140,000 in donations go to the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and help provide families access to children’s healthcare, along with the AJGA’s ACE Grant Program and the First Tee.
“Being involved with giving back to these great organizations has been very rewarding to me and my entire family,” Sanders said. “I have learned this universal principle that when we give to others, we get so much more back in return.”
In May 2015, Sanders received a diagnosis of viral pericarditis, an inflammation of the heart, that almost kept him off the golf course and out of a state championship run. But his perseverance through the condition helped strengthen his resolution into becoming a stronger teammate, golfer and young man.
“I haven’t struggled for much in my life,” Sanders said. “And I really feel for those who have. I really want to give back and make sure they don’t have to struggle anymore.”
Sanders rose to No. 57 in the Polo Golf Rankings after two top-10 finishes at the Haas Family Invitational and the Under Armour® / Scott Stallings Championship presented by Pilot Flying J this season. He is also verbally committed to play golf at LSU. But more importantly, he is committed to his fundraising, mission work and impacting others in a positive way.