The USGA-AJGA 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 USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism. The recipients of the 2013 USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award will be announced on May 28 and will accept their award at the Rolex Dinner of Champions on Wednesday, July 10, during the Rolex Tournament of Champions in Lancaster, Pa.
AJ Beechler, Pinehurst, N.C. (Class of 2018)
Beechler is involved in Leadership Links and has raised $1,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and the ACE Grant program, which gives top-flight golf opportunities to talented golfers who lack financial resources to play in national level junior golf tournaments. While working at his family’s restaurant, all of his tips and donations went toward his fundraising efforts. Beechler also has worked for Operation Footsteps and Stop Hunger Now.
Patrick Cover, Huntersville, N.C. (Class of 2014)
Cover helped establish the Dormie Cup charity golf tournament. This event donated $47,000 to the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer in 2012. He is also involved in Teens for Jeans and Samaritan’s Feet, collecting clothing and footwear for children, as well as volunteering time at the Urban Ministry Center.
Wilson Furr, Jackson, Miss. (Class of 2017)
The founder of Just Have a Ball, Furr has raised more than $90,000 and provided more than 18,000 golf balls to Mississippi youth for a fun way to improve fitness. Furr’s cause became statewide when he joined forces with The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi.
Grant Guthery, Dublin, Ohio (Class of 2013)
Guthery served as the 2013 chair for Putt Down Drive Out Cancer, an event to benefit the American Cancer Society. Guthery was co-chair of the event in 2012 and helped raise $6,015 with a field of 44 players. A National Honor Society member, Guthery has also worked with the Streets Mission Project and the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance ShotLink program.
Jake Hendrix, Austin, Texas (Class of 2014)
Hendrix served as a summer camp mentor for The First Tee of Greater Austin for the past two years. He also raised $2,500 in a 63-hole golf-a-thon to benefit the organization.
Ryan Hudson, Western Springs, Ill. (Class of 2013)
A National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society member, Hudson helped organize a Fore the Y golf tournament to help bring golf into the lives of young people at YMCAs in the Chicagoland area. Partnering with The First Tee of Greater Chicago, Hudson helped raise $31,000.
Christopher Kim, Closter, N.J. (Class of 2013)
Kim launched the charity Raul’s Fund in conjunction with the Leadership Links Birdies for Charity program. With his efforts and help from several sponsors, Kim raised $2,478 to support a Mexican teen he met on a medical mission trip. Kim also has helped that teen enroll in high school and his brother enroll in college.
Seiya Liu, Bradenton, Fla. (Class of 2015)
Liu has raised more than $21,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation through the Playing Fore Their Future program with Leadership Links. He served as an assistant golf coach at The First Tee of Sarasota-Manatee in its weekly Par and Birdie Status Children’s Camp. Liu also helped raise $500 in a silent auction for The First Tee of Sarasota-Manatee and volunteered at Buddhist Tzu-Chi General Hospital and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/Nephrology Group.
Patrick Martin, Birmingham, Ala. (Class of 2015)
Martin helped organize the Harvey G. Martin Classic, a golf tournament to honor his late grandfather who battled cancer. Over the past three years, the event has raised over $24,000 for St. Vincent’s Cancer Center for research.
Kevin O’Donnell, Cape May Court House, N.J. (Class of 2013)
A finalist for the 2011 AJGA Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award, given to one junior that displays exemplary sportsmanship, O’Donnell organized a golf-a-thon to raise money for the Love of Linda Cancer Fund. He played 101 holes in 11 hours and raised $1,500 to help provide financial assistance for families of cancer patients.
Stephen Stallings, Louisville, Ky. (Class of 2013)
Stallings has raised more than $5,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation benefitting CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. Stallings also works with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana and has serves as an ambassador to junior golfers in the state of Kentucky.
Jens Verhey, Reno, Nev. (Class of 2014)
Verhey has raised more than $1,500 for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer in honor of his friend and golfing partner Anthony Decker, who has retinoblastoma, a rare cancerous tumor in the retina. He has also worked with the Special Olympics of Northern Nevada and the Manogue Minors music ensemble.
Thomas Walsh, High Point, N.C. (Class of 2015)
Along with fellow finalist Patrick Cover, Walsh has helped develop the Dormie Cup charity golf tournament to benefit The Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. Walsh also has worked with the Wounded Warrior Project, The First Tee of the Sandhills and the Carolina Golf Association.
Dree Fausnaugh, Maitland, Fla. (Class of 2015)
A 2012 honorable mention Rolex Junior All-American, Fausnaugh has raised more than $5,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and CureSearch by organizing a charity golf tournament. Fausnaugh also has worked with the Mike Bender Golf Academy, Christian HELP and the Florida Emergency Physicians Golf Classic.
Jessica Kittelberger, Raleigh, N.C. (Class of 2014)
Kittelberger organized the Golf for Promise fundraising tournament and raised more than $30,000 for the North Carolina Children’s Promise for UNC Children’s Hospital during the last three years. Kittelberger is also involved with the Environmental Conservation Organization.
Divya Manthena, Camarillo, Calif. (Class of 2015)
Manthena organized a golf tournament for the Special Olympics of Southern California (Ventura County) that raised $13,000. Manthena has also planned and executed charity golf tournaments to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the American Red Cross.
Ciara Petronzio, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Class of 2015)
In 2007, Petronzio started her own nonprofit charity called Pennies for Pups, which helps raise awareness for abandoned dogs in local no-kill animal shelters. Petronzio organized two charity golf tournaments in 2012 which each raised more than $10,000 to help provide medication, food and medical care for dogs in animal rescues.
Taylor Thompson, Baton Rouge, La. (Class of 2013)
Thompson has raised more than $3,000 for the ACE Grant and Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. In addition, Thompson hosted a toy drive to benefit Braveheart Children in Need. A National Honor Society member, Thompson has volunteered time at Baton Rouge General Hospital, the Saint Vincent DePaul Society soup kitchens, the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and the Lake Sherwood Village Retirement Community.
Jean Tyrrell, Leawood, Kan. (Class of 2015)
Tyrrell has volunteered with the Midwest PGA Section Foundation’s Starting New at Golf (SNAG) golf program to provide schools with safe and developmentally- appropriate golf equipment. Tyrrell has also donated hair to Locks of Love for the past six years.
Ale Walker, Paintsville, Ky. (Class of 2013)
Walker is the class president of Paintsville High School where she has helped organize fundraisers for: Hands for Haiti, local tornado victims, the family of a deceased classmate and breast cancer awareness. Walker has also spearheaded several community and environmental action projects as a part of her high school’s Pride Club.