READ WHAT OTHER HSJGA MEMBERS HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THE EXEMPTIONS
In 2004, with rounds of 69-74-69, Hawaii’s Kimberly Kim made history by becoming the youngest junior to win an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) championship. Kimberly was 12 years old at the time and out shot girls who were 5 years her senior at the IRI Golf Group Tri-Cities Junior at Sun Willows Golf Course. This was also her first AJGA event.
AJGA tournaments are extremely competitive and feature top juniors from all over the world. In order to play in these events, juniors first have to compete in a qualifying round that’s held the day before the championship.
In Kimberly’s case, she had an “automatic in” to the event and did not have to fly up to Washington to play in the qualifier. This opportunity was afforded to her by one of the exemptions that HSJGA secured from AJGA.
Along with exemptions from AJGA, we have been very fortunate to secure others from the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT), for the Doral Publix Junior Classic and other venues. We’ve worked hard to establish a good working rapport with these organizations and are very grateful for their help.
There are many benefits to be gained from these exemptions:
- Living in Hawaii makes attending national events cost prohibitive. Families have to think twice before paying for airfare, hotel accommodations, and ground transportation just to play in a qualifier. It would be an expensive one-day event if the junior did not make the cut. An exemption is a guaranteed “in” to the event.
- Along with the exemptions, IJGT has given HSJGA special discounted rates to the events and has waived the $225 annual membership fee.
- There is exposure to college coaches, possibly resulting in athletic scholarships. Because these tournaments feature top players, college coaches have put these events on their recruiting agenda. There have been numerous instances in which HSJGA juniors have been approached by coaches after being observed at these events.
- Exposure to different types of courses and weather conditions and playing with other juniors have helped HSJGA juniors become more comfortable when playing in tournaments outside of Hawaii.
- First-timers to a national event have come back with an incentive to practice harder because they saw what was needed to compete on a national level. Others, who were previously intimidated by national events, realized that they are able to compete at that level and have gained confidence.
- Some of the exempt juniors have done so well in the events that they earned exemptions directly from AJGA and IJGT for future events.
Below are notes of thanks from some of our juniors who were awarded exemptions:
Response from Nicole Sakamoto when being offered an AJGA exemption during her senior year in high school. She had accepted an exemption(s) in previous years.
February 20, 2008
Hi Melanie Ito,
I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity these past years to participate in HSJGA tournaments, but I’m going to decline on the tournaments this year. Because of HSJGA I was exposed to college coaches and the result of that, I am going to attend James Madison University in Virginia and receiving a scholarship. The experience I had playing at different courses, in different conditions, different states, and meeting new people was the best opportunity I have had for the golf career I’m trying to pursue.
Dear Mary Bea Porter-King and HSJGA,
I would like to thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to participate in the IJGT event in San Diego. Participation in this event motivated me to take my game to another level. Thank you again for all of your hard work that you do for the juniors in Hawaii. My parents and I appreciate you all very much.
With much Aloha,
SEAN RECEIVED AN ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIP TO THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
Dear Ms. Melanie Ito,
Thank you so much for helping me get this exemption (IJGT). Without you notifying my Mom where I stand for this exemption, we all probably would have been clueless. My mother and father were really proud when they received your call saying that I got the exemption. I was even more happy because this tournament would be the first I would play on the mainland.
Thank you so much again for all your help.
ELYSE RECEIVED AN ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIP TO OREGON STATE
April 24, 2003:
Mary Bea and Staff,
Wayne and I would like to express our gratitude for all your efforts in providing the junior golfers the opportunity to play in tournaments on the mainland. The IJGT at Kierland was an A-1 tournament, meeting many wonderful and kind (and rich too!) families. Britney made lasting friendships with girls she played with, exchanging email addresses, home addresses, etc. It was just a priceless experience.
Again, thank you for giving Britney the opportunity and we truly appreciate all the hard work that goes into running a first class organization.
Wayne and Shelly Choy
BRITNEY RECEIVED AN ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIP TO THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO