The USGA believes that the game of golf is for all ages and abilities. In an effort to engage the nation’s youth the USGA conducts the National Championships for the best junior golfers in the country and also helps to bring the championship experience to young people of all skill levels.
USGA Junior Championships
The USGA is committed to providing competitive opportunities for amateur golfers of all ages, and in 1948 and 1949, the USGA inaugurated the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and the U.S. Girls’ Junior, respectively, to determine the best junior golfer in the United States and also to help junior golfers learn how to realize the most from the game, win or lose.
The Junior Amateur is lauded as one of the most difficult of all USGA championships to win, because of two factors: the age limit and the tremendous number of fine young players who enter each year. Only one player, Tiger Woods, has won the Junior Amateur more than once, winning in 1991, 1992 and 1993. In fact, only five players have reached the final twice.
The inaugural Girls' Junior drew a starting field of 28 girls from 17 states, more impressive than the size of the field or the styles of play was the wonderful spirit and sportsmanship the contestants brought to the game. While victory in the U.S. Girls' Junior by no means guarantees a successful career in women's golf, Girls' Junior champions have won the Women's Amateur and the Women's Open a remarkable 10 times each, and 17 Girls' Junior champions have gone on to represent the United States on the Curtis Cup team.
The Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior remain today an educational opportunity as well as a competitive outlet for some of the nation’s top amateur golfers.
U.S. Open Junior Day
Starting in 2001, U.S. Open Junior Day has been held in conjunction with the U.S. Open Championship to expose young golfers to the electric USGA Championship atmosphere, while fostering a lifelong interest in the game.
The day typically involves a golf exhibition, which has been performed by well-known performers Dennis Walters and Ben Witter as well as PGA Tour Member and U.S. Junior Amateur champion Hunter Mahan and golf analyst and two-time U.S. Open Champion Andy North. Junior Attendees also have an opportunity to test their skills at various chipping and putting stations. The highlight of the day is the opportunity to attend a practice round of the U.S. Open. On site, juniors are able to watch the best players in the world prepare for the national championship as well as see one of the country’s finest golf courses that has been transformed into a major championship venue.
The USGA wants to help ensure that young players have an opportunity to see the game’s best players compete at the highest level. There is typically no cost to attend a USGA amateur championship. At those where tickets are sold a generous junior ticket policy is implemented. At the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open complimentary admission is provided for children 17 and under who are accompanied by a credentialed adult. At the U.S. Open, children age 12 and under receive complimentary admission when accompanied by a credentialed adult. Tickets are available for youth 13-17 years old at a reduced rate when accompanied by a credentialed adult. Be sure to check specific championship Web sites for the most up to date junior ticket information, including how to obtain such tickets.
USGA Championship Practice Balls
Every year, approximately 75,000 practice balls are used at USGA national championships. At the end of the season these balls, which are donated by manufacturers, are distributed to a variety of USGA-supported junior golf programs and golf programs for individuals with disabilities. The participants of these programs not only benefit from having high quality golf balls, but enjoy knowing that they might be hitting a ball previously used by the best player in the world of the game’s next star.