The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour has given golfers ages 11-18 a chance to play in tournament atmospheres since 2008. The HJGT is based out of Jacksonville and will be hosting the Junior Amateur Golfing Association (JAGA) City Jr. Championship at Deerwood Country Club June 17-18.
Three spots are being offered to local juniors who are members of local Jacksonville area chapters of The First Tee, a program that teaches children the fundamentals of golf and also builds character.
“It’s an honor to be chosen by The First Tee,” 13-year-old Trevor Madridejos said in a press release about the event.
Jeff Willoughby, program director of The First Tee in North Florida, said he hopes the program’s golfers will place well, gaining them and the program some recognition.
“Whether they win or place well, it will bring some light to the competitive golfers we have in our program,” Willoughby said.
While The First Tee prepares players for what they can expect on the course, Willoughby said they are essentially a youth development program.
“We make sure they are prepared for high school graduation,” Willoughby said. “Golf is more in the background as we want them to be more successful on the academic front.”
HJGT will also host a Tour Championship for the first time this year. Players with a win in their respected divisions — boys 11-14 and 15-18 and girls 15-18 — will earn a bid into the November championship.
“It takes a couple of months to prepare for,” said Dan Crowther, director of marketing for HJGT. “It’s one of the tournaments we have in rotation as we do 100 tournaments in a calendar year spanning eight states.”
This City Jr. Championship will host more than 60 participants. The registration fee is $179. The event will be open to the public.
Willoughby said he hopes to continue First Tee's partnership with HJGT.
“By allowing The First Tee children to get in the tournament, it will be a more diverse field,” Willoughby said. “Not only in race and gender, but financially as well.”
Willoughby said he looks forward to what the tournament can provide for the players of The First Tee.
“There are potential sponsorships and rankings, depending on how they place,” Willoughby said. “College recruiters will be at the event and can provide more research on what the kids are looking for with a maximum amount of resources given.”