News

USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award Finalists Announced

10 boys and 10 girls make the final list for award
2021 Presidents' Leadership Award Front page.jpg

The American Junior Golf Association and the United States Golf Association are pleased to announce the 2021 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award finalists.

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 finalists for the 2021 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award are:

Boys

Clark Akers of Nashville, Tennessee (2021)
Akers has been involved in numerous service projects since 2017. Most notably he is a frequent presence at the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. He built multiple benches for the hospital to provide a safe place for patients to sit outside in the green spaces. Akers also participated in the Friends and Fashion Show fundraiser. This event raised awareness for childhood illnesses and highlighted the hope that the Children's Hospital brings to families.

Turner Edwards of Charlotte, North Carolina (2022)
Edwards firmly believes that volunteering is vital for the future of the game of golf. He was deeply involved in the 2020 Carolina Cup and captained the event in 2021. Thanks to the support of friends and family, he raised over $11,000 in 2020 and over $55,000 in 2021 to benefit the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and the AJGA's ACE Grant Program. The most important part of the whole process to Edwards was setting an example for other junior golfers to follow.

Tommy Frist of Nashville, Tennessee (2023)
Frist traveled to Ethiopia to assist surgeons in cataract surgery for two weeks. He also worked with the local YMCA during COVID-19 to assemble and deliver food to those in need. Frist also started the Harlen Society to help young men from different backgrounds engage with one another. As a part of the State Cup Series, Frist played in the Tennessee Cup and raised $6,990 last year and raised over $7,000 so far this year. Frist has an incredible network of people and is using it to bring people together. He is a strong leader and very well-liked in his school and the community.

Kyle Haas of Winston-Salem, North Carolina (2023)
Haas helped run a blood drive at his school, which allowed people and students to come and donate blood to the Red Cross. Assisting the Red Cross has helped Haas understand just how important donating blood is for those who need blood transfusions. Haas also helped with PGA's 100 Holes for Hope, which raises money for veterans through the PGA Reach Foundation. Between himself and four other friends, they raised over $15,000. He also participated in the Carolina Cup and raised over $1,500 for the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation and the Ace Grant.

Bo Maradik of Nashville, Tennessee (2022)
Maradik created and co-chaired the Tennessee Cup for the past two years. Proceeds from this State Cup Series event were split among the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, The Snedeker Foundation, and the AJGA's ACE Grant Program. Maradik also invests in his local community. Each year he finds a way to volunteer with the Bridge Ministry, Grace M. Elementary, Fort Campbell, Lakeshore Senior Living and the Church of Christ Disaster Relief.

Dalton Payne of Estero, Florida (2023)
Payne has volunteered more than 60 hours with local community service efforts. These efforts include talking with key individuals in order to raise money for his community. Payne Leadership Links to host the first-ever "Stoneybrook Junior Golf Classic" which raised $5,000. Payne also volunteers with the "Candlelighters of SWFL", an American Childhood Cancer Organization affiliate. This organization aids the families and children who have been affected by cancer and blood disorders.

Charles Warren of Huntsville, Alabama (2023)
Warren has been battling cancer for the past year and a half. He flies back and forth to Texas for treatment while also attending school and playing competitive golf. Warren raised more than $20,000 for the Alabama Cup and delivered a check for $25,000 to MD Anderson, the hospital where he received treatment. Warren also does a great deal of community work through the McCallie Service and Business Society. At nine years old he developed Crone’s disease and had several surgeries before he was 12 and finally reached remission. Because of the severity of his treatment, he was not able to see his family during his chemotherapy.

Zachary Ong of (Singapore) Scarsdale, New York (2022)
Ong, during the height of the pandemic, started his own non profit organization, “We’re” to compile PPE Kits. Ong worked on the supply chain, assembled the kits and handed them out at tournaments and schools. Spent almost $12,000 in putting these kits together and handing them out. This wasn't enough for Ong, he also wanted to raise money for the AJGA's ACE Grant Program and he raised $7,500 to benefit junior's that had the ability to play golf at the national level, but lacked the financial resources to do so.

Hampton Beebe of West Palm Beach, Florida (2027)
At 13 years old, Beebe has already participated in multiple volunteer opportunities. He has volunteered with the Pat Reeves Village Shelter, the Cancer Alliance, and the Legal Aid Society. All the efforts were geared toward participating in fundraisers, setting up events, as well as sponsoring the Kids Helping Kids program – providing hot meals and fun activities. Beebe has also played in the Florida Sunshine Cup for two years and raised over $14,000.

Sam O’Hara of Rye, New York (2023)
O'hare participated in the Metro Cup as part of the State Cup Series of events. The Metro Cup raised money for the Boys' and Girls' Club of Greenwich. He is also active in mentoring, volunteering and caddying for the next generation. O'Hare also spends his time with the "Sweet Readers" which involves reading and companionship to senior adults.

Girls
Ashley Yen of Houston, Texas (2022)
Yen raised money for the Joy School through the AJGA's Leadership Links program. In addition, she also started a non-profit called Kits 2 Kids. This non-profit puts together STEM learning kits for local schools to use in their curriculum. Yen spends a good deal of her time mentoring and coaching golf with the First Tee of Greater Houston.

Andie Smith of Hobe Sound, Florida (2022)
Smith was awarded the Congressional Award that recognizes initiative, service and achievement in young people. It is the highest honor for youth service. She organized and ran the Atlantic Cup as part of the State Cup Series of events to raise money for Charity Water and the AJGA's ACE Grant Program. She has also traveled with fellow AJGA member Rafe Cochran to Jamaica for various community service projects.

Theresa Shaw of Auburn, California (2023)
Shaw volunteers as an assistant coach and tournament coordinator for The Gold Country Junior Golf Association with tasks that include pre, post and day of tournament activities. The Gold Country Junior Golf Association provides the community with introductory golf at minimal costs. Shaw also teaches younger players the game of golf and is known for her character and integrity.

Katherine Lemke of Geneva, Illinois (2021)
Lemke raises money for The Daphne W. Waterproof Cast Fund at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. Using her family's holiday card list, she spent more than 80 hours sending letters to raise money from 50 different donors. After reaching out to friends and family and writing personalized letters, Lemke raised more than $4,300.

Kara Carter of Kingsport, Tennessee (2021)
Carter works with the Tri-City First Tee in Tennessee as a coach and volunteer. She helps to teach core life skills and the game of golf to kids around her. Carter participated in the Tennessee Cup the last two years and has raised over $5,000 for local Tennessee Charities and the AJGA's ACE Grant Program. Carter is an influential part of the golf community where she lives and has donated her time and talents to help over 140 students.

Esther Wu of Saratoga, California (2022)
Wu has volunteered her time with "Friends of Children with Special Needs". She specifically helped with a special needs dance class designed to not only teach them how to dance but also how to socialize and follow a routine. Wu also volunteered with the "New Visions of Tomorrow" helping visually impaired children play at playgrounds and at home.

Sophie Zhang-Murphy of Saratoga, California (2022)
Zhang-Murphy started giving back when she was 13 years old. She recently worked with two other junior’s to raise $30,000 to support AJGA tournaments in California and the AJGA's ACE Grant Program. Zhang-Murphy has also volunteered her time with the Massachusetts General Hospital where she raised money for people with cancer by gathering pledges for birdies she makes in AJGA events. She also volunteers with The Pacific Academy Foundation, which gives scholarships to talented students who lack strong financial support.

Kimberly Shen of Johns Creek, Georgia (2022)
Shen has raised over $2,000 through Leadership Links for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. She has also served as a volunteer with her school's Beta Club which involves serving the local community. Shen also helps young golfers at summer camps through her local SAI Golf Academy.

Haven Ward of Atlanta, Georgia (2023)
Ward volunteers at Girls Golf, a program that provides girls with quality golf instruction. She also spends her time coaching younger girls on how to play golf and volunteering with APIVEO. This organization's mission is to have a positive long-lasting impact on youth. For her efforts, Ward received an award that came with a cash donation of $1000 which she gave to the Warrick Dunn Charities.

Gabrielle Culver of Montgomery, Texas (2023)
Culver is a part of an ongoing project where she designs, makes and provides breakfast bags to the Montgomery County chapter of Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels provides support to seniors in the area through food, outreach, hope and a sense of community. Culver also volunteers with "Do Something" where she cleans up the streets in her community to protect humans and animals. She also works on a recycling can project to help remove waste from the environment.

About Leadership Links

Since 2009, the Leadership Links program has helped more than 1,000 junior golfers make a difference in their community by generating more than $1 million dollars in charitable contributions to hundreds of 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. For more information about Leadership Links, visit https://www.ajga.org/programs/leadership-links.

About the USGA

The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The USGA’s working jurisdiction comprises the United States, its territories and Mexico.

The USGA is a global leader in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and funds an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” charitable giving program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries.

For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.

About the AJGA

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 12-18) of more than 6,300 members from 48 states and more than 50 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.

AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 600 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Stacy Lewis, Vicky Hurst, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.