Brett Snortland and Chris Dernick of The Woodlands, Texas, have been awarded the American Junior Golf Association’s Digger Smith Award, which praises AJGA advocates for longtime service and dedication to junior golf. Brett’s father Don won the Digger Smith Award in 1995, which make the Snortlands the first parent-child duo to be honored with this award. Chris has served as Co-Tournament Chairman of the HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods since 2009, which has won six AJGA tournament awards in that time.
Presented annually since 1991, the Digger Smith Award is given to an AJGA supporter who is devoted to the AJGA Mission and Purpose of developing young men and women through competitive junior golf. The award is named in honor of AJGA Chairman of the Board J.R. “Digger” Smith, who has dedicated himself to the AJGA and junior golf for more than three decades.
Snortland’s involvement with the AJGA in The Woodlands spans nearly two decades, beginning with his volunteer efforts at the Easter tournament.
“It’s great to be able to give back to an organization that gave a lot to me,” Snortland said. “Chris has been a pleasure to work with, and The Club at Carlton Woods makes it very easy for us.”
Brett has served as a Co-Tournament Chairman since 2005 (2005-2007, 2009-present). The Club at Carlton Woods’ Fazio Championship Course has hosted the HP Boys Championship since 2009, and during this span, Snortland has raised more than $642,000. The Committee has earned the Junior-Am Award four consecutive years (2009-2012) because of Brett’s direct efforts in this area. During this time, the event has also won two Invitational of the Year honors (2009, 2011).
Most important, the money raised has allowed the HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods to provide an unparalleled experience for the tournament field and to give significant financial resources back to the community.
In 2010 and 2011 alone, more than $44,250 of revenue was donated back to local charities, including Camp Blessing Texas, the Houston Golf Association, The Woodlands High School, College Park High School and the Texana Center. These five groups received $33,250 to advance their causes, which range in scope from helping special needs children to providing additional opportunities in junior golf. The AJGA’s ACE Grant received the remaining $11,000.
Brett is passionate about charitable giving and the impact his event can make in The Woodlands community.
Brett played AJGA events from 1985-1988 including Rolex TOC and the annual Woodlands event, along the likes of Phil Mickelson, Nicky Goetz, Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard.
Chris and her family have been involved with the AJGA since 1994, when her daughter Lisa competed in her first AJGA event. After her three children finished their AJGA careers, the Dernick family continued their dedication to the AJGA. Chris’s husband, Dr. Bob Dernick, is a dentist professionally and serves as an AJGA senior rules official throughout the year. The Dernicks volunteer at a number of AJGA events including the Goodman Networks Junior at Traditions, Under Armour® / Hunter Mahan Championship and BilliardFactory.com Junior Championship. Their children, Lisa, Daniel and Lizann, also volunteer their time to these events.
“Digger Smith and Stephen Hamblin have developed this wonderful organization and I feel very fortunate to be part of it,” Chris said. “I feel that I owe it to the game of golf to give back what has so greatly been given to me by the AJGA. I truly believe in their purpose, goals and objectives and I want to contribute in any way that I can.”
The HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods is one of the most anticipated events on the schedule, thanks to Chris’s creativity on and off the golf course. She has made her visions a reality with extensive activities throughout the event, including fairground-style cookouts, carnival games, camel rides, magic shows, the famous Peeps long-drive contest and glow-in-the-dark golf.
Aside from the activities, Chris has been instrumental in the finishing touches to the tournament with impressive guest speakers such as 1981 Open Championship winner Bill Rogers, and inviting LPGA Hall of Famer Carol Mann to start players on the first tee.
Chris’s dedication and creativity is behind many of the AJGA’s programs. She shared with the AJGA her vision of having every player write a thank you note to sponsors and supporters at each event, and as a result the AJGA adopted a program that ensures 100 percent participation. Her photo books were also the inspiration for the AJGA to create books for all of its major sponsors.
Her passion for providing opportunities for junior golfers in The Woodlands extends beyond The HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods. She made it possible for the AJGA to extend its presence in the community, as she played a key role to The Woodlands Country Club hosting an event beginning in 2011.