NASHVILLE, Tenn. - John Hayden of Birmingham, Ala., and Dree Fausnaugh of Maitland, Fla., were presented with the 2014 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award on Wednesday, June 25 at the Rolex Tournament of Champions in Nashville, Tenn.
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. Nineteen members of the Rolex Tournament of Champions field are participants of the Leadership Links program.
Hayden and Fausnaugh were honored for their service by the AJGA and USGA during the Rolex Dinner of Champions.
USGA President Thomas O’Toole Jr., highlighted the impact of the recipients and the importance of the Leadership Links program and what it means to those involved.
“The influence of junior golf goes well beyond the course,” O’Toole said. “John Hayden and Dree Fausnaugh represent thousands of junior golfers who have not only committed themselves to improving their games, but committed themselves to improving their communities through the game of golf.”
About John Hayden
When John Hayden met Bradley Johnson he had no way of knowing the connection the two would share eight years later. On that day in 2005, Hayden watched Johnson play at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala. Johnson was a Rolex Junior All-American in 2005, the runner-up at the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and had a promising golf career ahead of him.
Johnson was killed in a car accident later that year at the age of 17. After his death, his family started the Bradley Johnson Memorial Foundation to provide financial assistance to junior golfers in Alabama. Hayden has since become close to the Johnson family and has worked to help raise money for their Foundation, and the AJGA’s Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant.
“I am doing this because the Foundation helps underprivileged kids play golf, and golf is a game you can’t take for granted,” Hayden said. “I bet the Johnsons would love to see their son play again and it is really important to me that everyone gets a chance to play this game.”
Hayden secures pledges for each birdie he makes in golf tournaments, and also sends out mass mailings, emails and brochures in attempt to reach his goal of $10,000 in 2014. Since 2012, he has raised more than $20,000.
“Some people give me money for each birdie that I make and some write a check. I try to write a thank you letter to everyone who contributes to the Foundation to let them know how much it means.”
Hayden also serves as class president and holds various roles within organizations in his community, including Relay for Life and junior golf programs at his home course.
“John’s a great leader,” said Dr. David Balik, Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs at Briarwood Christian School. “He’s quiet, but students will follow him because he has great character, and he’s a great guy.”
In two years of playing AJGA events, Hayden has two top-five finishes in national competition, including a tie for third at the 2013 Preseason Junior at Château Élan. He has made a verbal commitment to play golf for the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2015.
“Bradley Johnson was all about character,” Hayden said. “I just want to live each day and be like Bradley and if I can do that, I did something right.”
About Dree Fausnaugh
Health, safety and well-being of children in local communities are the mission of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. Dree Fausnaugh believes in those values so much, she has dedicated the past two years to raising more than $18,000 for the Foundation.
Fausnaugh hosts a charity golf tournament and coordinates every detail, including the setup and recruitment of sponsors, food and beverage, course contracts and silent auction prizes.
“People don’t realize how much work is actually behind a charity golf tournament,” Fausnaugh said. “It took a lot of work to get people to commit, sign up and play, but it is worth it in the end.”
Fausnaugh’s dedication to helping those less fortunate stems from gratitude for what golf has done in her life, and in the lives of her family members.
“I have received a lot of opportunities through golf and I want to give back to those less fortunate,” she said. “It is a really good cause and it helps kids.”
Even while volunteering hundreds of hours of her time, Fausnaugh has developed as a top competitive junior golfer. She made her USGA championship debut in the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, advancing to the Round of 64, and also competed in the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior. Fausnaugh has made a verbal commitment to play college golf at the University of Central Florida in 2015
Fausnaugh says she is surprised to be recognized for her work.
“It means a lot to me. It is a huge honor to be named to something like this. The standards that you must meet to be considered are very high so it makes me feel good to know that I was good enough.”
While Fausnaugh is surprised by the recognition, those who work with her everyday say her leadership and affect on those around her is invaluable.
“She has the ability to lead vocally, to lead by what she does on the course and in the hallway,” said Mike Ostrowski, Director of Athletic Programs at Lake Mary Preparatory School, where Fausnaugh is a rising senior. “She’s a role model for younger kids. As our golf program continues to grow, it will be in large part due to her and what she’s done.”