U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Jacobsen Youth Initiative Opens Door to U.S. Junior Amateur July 16, 2018 By Jordan Schwartz, USGA

Graham Moody playing his tee shot from the first hole at the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Clay Merchent playing his tee shot at the 11th hole during the first round of stroke play of the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. on Monday, July 16, 2018. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)
Clay Merchent playing his tee shot at the 11th hole during the first round of stroke play of the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. on Monday, July 16, 2018. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)
Clay Merchent playing his tee shot at the 11th hole during the first round of stroke play of the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. on Monday, July 16, 2018. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)

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How can a junior golfer learn the game if he or she can’t afford to play a regulation course? That’s the problem David Jacobsen set out to solve when he established the Jacobsen Youth Initiative, a program within the Oregon Golf Association that allows children and teenagers to tee it up for just $5 per round.

“If we can create enough opportunity for young people to play golf at a reasonable expense, they’ll be able to fall in love with it,” Jacobsen said.

Graham Moody, 15, of Vancouver, Wash., is one of the beneficiaries of the program, using the skills he developed to qualify for the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.

“I’ve been able to play a lot more on the course,” Moody said. “You can learn as much as you can on the range, but then you have to take it from there onto the course. It’s been huge to go and play whenever I want. It’s financially tough when they don’t have the program rates, so now being able to play for almost nothing is huge.”

Moody was introduced to the game when, as a 6-year-old, he’d tag along at some of his dad’s lessons. Over the past decade, golf has taught him dedication and perseverance.

“A lot of core values like trust and integrity are huge in the game of golf,” he said. “Friendship is key too. All the people you meet and get to spend time with from all over the world is huge too.”

Moody has already accomplished a lot in the game, winning the 2018 WIAA Class 3A state championship by one stroke with rounds of 68 and 71 as a freshman at Mountain View High School, where he also plays trombone in the wind ensemble and jazz band.

Vancouver is just over the Columbia River from Portland and so Moody now practices in Washington but plays competitively in Oregon. He even got to spend a week at Bandon Dunes for a tournament. That was the highlight of his young golf career until this week.

“It’s kind of eye-opening,” said Moody, who shot 149 in two rounds of stroke play. “I didn’t realize how tough it was going to be until I showed up. I saw the Nicklaus plaque – hit my ball right down there.”

Jordan Schwartz is the creative and content lead for the USGA Foundation. Email him at jschwartz@usga.org.