John Farese of Sayville, N.Y., and Natalie Turk of Franklin, Tenn., were presented the 2011 Presidents’ Leadership Award Thursday evening at the Rolex Tournament of Champions at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore.
The Presidents’ Leadership Award was created to recognize one boy and one girl junior golfer who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program – a joint initiative founded by the American Junior Golf Association and United States Golf Association in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.
Farese and Turk were honored for their service by the presidents of the AJGA and USGA during the Rolex Dinner of Champions. In 2005, the USGA and AJGA began their partnership with an initiative aimed at the overall growth and development of junior golfers. By emphasizing the importance of community service and education, the partnership strives to enrich the lives of junior golfers and ensure there is a high level of volunteerism around the game for many years to come.
About John Farese
Farese founded a program called Operation Sports Equipment when he was spurred by the threat of a local little league franchise folding due to lack of equipment. Additionally influenced by his grandfather’s struggle as an orphan with no athletic opportunity in his native Colombia, Farese resolved to do something.
“Originally my simple goal was to help those in need play the sport that they love,” Farese said Thursday during his acceptance speech. “In the process I have learned the compassion and joy that can be found in helping others.”
His efforts began close to home when his own baseball team was in the process of disposing used equipment to make room for new purchases. Farese proposed his idea of donating the used equipment to a league that was in desperate need and the program was born. Since that season, Operation Sports Equipment has expanded beyond baseball and beyond Farese’s imagination.
Operation Sports Equipment has collected, refurbished and donated more than 10,000 pieces of athletic equipment throughout Long Island and upstate New York, as well as the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. Recently, Farese received a donation of 1,000 uniforms, which will be given to Roberto’s Kids, a charity founded by baseball hall of famer Roberto Clemente.
For his efforts, Farese has been recognized on the local, state and national level. He has gained acceptance into the University of Notre Dame’s prestigious Minority Leadership Summer Program and has been honored by the State of New York with the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
About Natalie Turk
“The best part about this award is it’s not about me or what I’ve done,” Turk said during Thursday’s acceptance speech. “It’s about the people that have gotten me here and the people in my life that have taught me to give back.”
Turk credited her twin brother Austin and her friends who have taught her to give back. One such friend was Ravenwood High School classmate Elizabeth Patton, who lost her life to Stevens-Johnson syndrome in 2009. Turk, who had already been involved with the AJGA’s Leadership Links in 2009, worked to raise money for the family of Elizabeth Patton and the scholarship fund that was created after her death. With the help of the USGA and AJGA, Turk was able to raise $2,400 during the 2010 AJGA Franklin Junior presented by Franklin American Mortgage Company. At the same tournament in 2009, she and five others raised more than $6,000 for The First Tee of Nashville, an organization with which she has volunteered many hours of coaching.
Her involvement in The First Tee of Nashville began in the spring of 2011 as a coach for a beginner’s class once a week, but she has not stopped there. She has become so involved with the organization that she put together the Fairway Friends tournament, which pairs two First Tee of Nashville golfers with a college golfer and one successful business person. From coming up with a budget to coordinating donations to recruiting participants, her efforts exemplify leadership.
Turk has also been involved in the Ravenwood High School kickball event for special needs students.
About the USGA
The USGA annually conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and 10 national amateur championships. It also conducts two state team championships and helps conduct the Walker Cup Match, Curtis Cup Match and World Amateur Team Championships. Each year, more than 35,000 players representing more than 80 countries submit entries to play in USGA championships.
The USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries. The USGA writes and administers the Rules of Golf, conducts equipment testing, provides expert course maintenance consultations, and, since 1920, has been a global leader in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history, and funds an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” grants program.
About the AJGA
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 40 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 500 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel.
For more information, please contact Rob Coleman (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the AJGA Communications Department at (678) 617-4585, or visit ajga.org.
USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award – Past Recipients
2011 John Farese (West Sayville, N.Y.)
Natalie Turk (Franklin, Tenn.)
2010 Drew Johnson (Oak Ridge, N.C.)
Jacqueline Calamaro (Newtown Square, Pa.)
2009 Zach Herr (New Hope, Pa.)
Emily Gimpel (Lafayette Hill, Pa.)
2008 Smylie Kaufman (Birmingham, Ala.)
Kelsey Conway (Ventura, Calif.)
2007 Joseph Suarez (Richmond, Va.)
Angela Villela (Sylmar, Calif.)
2006 Adam Michel (Orinda, Calif.) Katrina Delen-Briones (San Francisco, Calif.)