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June 5, 2014

John Hayden: 2014 Presidents' Leadership Award

John Hayden of Birmingham, Alabama, was named the male recipient of the 2014 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, the United States Golf Association and American Junior Golf Association announced Friday.

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.

Hayden and female recipient Dree Fausnaugh of Maitland, Florida, will be honored on June 25 in Nashville, Tennessee, during the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Additionally, they will each receive tickets to a future U.S. Open and an automatic entry into the 2014 Rolex Tournament of Champions, one of the world’s most prestigious junior golf events.

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, Alabama. 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.”

USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award – Past Recipients

2013   Patrick Cover (Huntersville, N.C.)
            Divya Manthena (Camarillo, Calif.)

2012   Brandon Pierce (Covington, La.)
            Cassie Wang (Lenexa, Kan.)

2011   John Farese (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.)