Preview: Beyond the Raptor Course

Fourteen years ago, AJGA alumnus Phil Mickelson challenged the Thunderbirds and Grayhawk Golf Club to create the most competitive junior golf tournament in the world. In 2012, the tournament was ranked No. 2 on Golfweek’s top junior events list and has solidified itself as one of the premier junior golf events for rising stars.
Thanks to the help of generous sponsors and support, the Thunderbird International Junior is an event featuring an experience that goes beyond the competition. Recognized as the AJGA’s 2005 Tournament of the Year, organizers continually raise the bar on player hospitality and experience. From personalized lockers to the Glo-Birds putting competition, the Thunderbird International Junior is high on the list for many junior golfers.
“Thunderbird is always one of the top picks on everyone’s schedule since it’s so fun,” said AJGA player Doug Ghim, who competed in his first Thunderbird International Junior in 2012. “It represents what summer is all about: competition, fun and warm weather.”
The 2013 event will once again impress beginning with the annual Welcome Dinner. Last year, Phil Mickelson’s longtime caddy Jim “Bones” Mackay attended the dinner and spoke to the field about his experiences on the professional circuit.
After the first round and into the night, the field will partake in the Glo-Birds Putting Competition created by the AJGA staff.
“It’s cool for the competitors to get together and have fun,” Ghim said. “It’s like Wyndham Cup, but we’re playing against each other. We have a good time and I’m looking forward to this year.”
Once the second round ends, players will participate in a Grayhawk Golf Club tradition, the "Dry Heave." Players will tee off under the twilight on No. 10 tee to No. 18 green. If a ball splashes in the hazard surrounding the green, players drop for push-ups.
With air hockey and ping pong to entertain players between golf and activities, the Thunderbird International Junior boasts a tournament experience that provides just as many off-course memories as the ones made on the Raptor Course.