AJGA to hold tournament at Cripple Creek

This May, 96 junior golfers will be traveling from all over the East Coast to Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club, to play in the 2012 American Junior Golf Association’s Preseason Junior Tournament.

“We have always kept our ears open for stuff like this,” said Cripple Creek Head Golf Professional and General Manager Brian Trout. “We told the DSGA (Delaware State Golf Association), ‘Look, if you hear of something that’s available out there, we’d like to host it.’ They know that, and they know our course and facilities. So the northeast regional director for the AJGA was contacting all of the golf associations in the region, and the DSGA recommended us.”

According to their Web site, the AJGA is, “a non-profit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.”

Players 12 to 18 years old from various eastern states, including Florida, Connecticut and Virginia, will travel to Delaware to participate in the three-day event, beginning May 4.

“It’s been around for quite a while. Tiger [Woods] was a part of it, Phil [Mickelson] was a part of it,” said Trout. “This is the game of golf — if you have the PGA tour, that’s the professional level. Then you have the United States Golf Association, or USGA, which is the governing body of golf in the United States. Then you have the AJGA. So this is your junior golfers who will come up through the ranks and go up into the USGA and play amateur golf for them, and then quite possibly turn professional and go onto the PGA tour. That’s kind of the succession of the whole thing.”

On May 4, golfers will arrive at the 18-hole Champion Golf Course designed by Algie Pulley, to play a practice round and have a rules meeting. On May 5, tee times for the 36-holes, stroke-play tournament will begin at 7 a.m., and play will continue throughout the day. In the evening, the players will return to the Club House to have a “Care for the Course” party.

“We’ll have a cookout, and then they’ll go back onto the golf course and fill in divots and all that kind of stuff,” explained Trout. “Then, on Sunday, they’ll have a shotgun start, awards around 1:30 in the afternoon, and then they’re out of here, because these people have to travel back to where they’re from.”

Although Cripple Creek is a private country club, Trout said that members of the public are more than welcome to attend any day of the event, to watch the young golfers play.

“We are inviting the public to come out and see this, too. We really encourage spectators. We certainly hope that a lot of people take advantage of coming out and seeing this event. Knowing that it’s open, I would say Saturday would be the day to come out and watch these guys play.”

Trout said he has also invited the local high-school golf teams to attend the tournament as spectators.

“It also gives exposure to a sport that’s not normally the focus down here. We’re trying to grow the game of golf to younger kids, open their eyes to some of the best golfers in the nation. Come on out and try it,” he invited. “These are your future golfers of what’s going to be next on the PGA and LPGA tour. A lot of these kids make it on there, if you look at the history of the AJGA and who has moved up in the ranks onto the tours we see today.”

Although there are no registered players from Delaware, Trout said he was given a reserved spot for an exemption into the event, and he hopes to choose a local player.

He added that, not only will the tournament provide a great opportunity for young golfers in the area to be exposed to professional golfing, but it will also positively affect the local community, as well.

“The economic impact to the local community right off the bat is thousands of dollars, in the sense of they have to have hotel reservations, they have to eat lunch someplace. There’s definitely money that is going to be filtering back into the community.”

The AJGA also gives a portion of the tournament’s entry fees to the club, to donate to a local charity of their choice.

“Within our local community, we get to designate where this charitable money is donated. One of the huge reasons we took this because the members said, ‘Hey, we get to give it back.’ We’re going to give it to one of the grassroots, local, golf-oriented groups around here,” said Trout. He noted that the club would not announce the recipient of the donation until the awards ceremony on May 6.

Trout said he hopes the community will attend the tournament and support the country’s future golfers.

“Bring your family – come out and take a look at it. This might be a once-in-a-long-time opportunity,” said Trout. “I certainly hope people, locals and visitors, will come out and experience it, even if they don’t know that much about it. It should be a great time.”

Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club is located at 29494 Cripple Creek Drive near Dagsboro. For more information, call Cripple Creek at (302) 539-5359 or visit www.cripplecreekgolf.com and www.ajga.org.