The Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado seizes a huge opportunity by hosting the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship
You could say that one USGA championship led directly to another.
During last summer’s U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, the USGA Senior Director of Competitions Mark Hill asked Colorado Golf Association Executive Director Ed Mate if Colorado would be interested in hosting the U.S. Girls’ Junior, arguably the top golf championship for female amateurs 18 and under.
“I said, ‘Of course we’d be,’” Mate recalls. And after some discussions with Colorado PGA Executive Director Eddie Ainsworth, a plan quickly took shape.
By February, the USGA was at Eisenhower Golf Club announcing that the 2020 U.S. Girls’ Junior would take place July 13-18 at the Blue Course at the Air Force Academy—and that the Junior Golf Alliance (JGAC) of Colorado would be the “host group for the championship.”
Following the announcement, Ainsworth left no doubt that the JGAC—an organization founded by the CGA and the Colorado PGA and launched in 2016—“was the reason why we’re here.”
He also took particular pleasure in the announcement that Eisenhower would become the first U.S. military-affiliated course to host a USGA championship.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a special moment,” he said. “I still bleed Air Force blue. I’m the son of a retired Air Force chief master sergeant. I managed this place (Eisenhower Golf Club) for 10 years. When we were looking at sites, I was adamant that this should be where we do this. To do it here, in my hometown, at the foot of America’s mountain—all those things give me special pride.”
“It’s an honor to be part of a national championship,” said JGAC President Mike Schultz. “This is the next logical step for the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado. We’ve hosted many championships (including) AJGA championships. Now we have a phenomenal opportunity with the USGA and the Air Force Academy to host the 2020 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.”
It’s a significant opportunity, with the potential for a big payoff in terms of major exposure— the event is expected to be televised nationally by the family of Fox networks—and helping grow the game.
It’s also a significant responsibility. The Alliance will be responsible for raising $400,000 for the event.
“The USGA’s business model for all its amateur championships is to depend on the local community to raise the money needed to put on a one-of-a-kind, world-class championship,” Mate explains.
“A lot of people scratch their heads and say, ‘Where does that money go?’ The short answer is that it makes the experience really special for the players, and brings a world-class event to a world-class city like Colorado Springs. So, we have to raise the money to make sure that experience is delivered.”
Already, the Alliance has announced “partnership opportunities” for the event. Despite the fundraising challenges ahead, Mate and Ainsworth see this U.S. Girls’ Junior “host group” status for the Junior Golf Alliance as a major big-picture win for the organization.
“When we started down this path several months ago, we looked at this as an opportunity to really solidify what we’re doing through the Junior Golf Alliance in hosting a major championship,” Ainsworth said. “So, it’s extremely important. Once again, it shows how committed we—the Colorado Golf Association, the Colorado PGA—are to the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado.”
Get Involved! If you or your company are interested in sponsoring or donating to the 2020 U.S. Girls’ Junior, please contact Ryan Smith at 303-974-2108 or [email protected].
This article appeared in the 2019 April issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.
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