American Junior Golf Association tournament organizers

Organizers reviewed plans for the American Junior Golf Association tournament, which will be Aug. 1-5 at The Bridges in Montrose. The tournament was announced Wednesday morning. Front row, from left: Shannon McDonnell, Ashley Pietak, and Kailey Rivenburgh, representing the City of Montrose. Back row: Ty Jennings, an organizer of the tournament, Eric Feely, general manager of The Bridges, David Simmons, board member of The Bridges, Chris Iverson, competitive sports program coordinator, City of Montrose. (Stephen Woody/Special to the Montrose Daily Press) 

The Bridges of Montrose will host an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournament Aug. 1-5, it was announced Wednesday morning. The City of Montrose will partner in the event which will attract a field of 96 young men and women golfers from all over the world.

The AJGA is the premier youth golf organization in the U.S. It is a 501©3 non-profit organization and based in Atlanta since 1978.

The effort to attract an AJGA tournament to Montrose has been underway for three years, said Eric Feely, the general manager of The Bridges. “We appreciate how the city has stepped up as a full sponsor.” Feely is also a PGA professional and is involved in the development of the Montrose Golf Association which attracts more than 150 young golfers every summer. Feely said that while the tournament will attract hundreds of parents, fans, coaches and recruiters, it will stretch beyond the five-day event, exposing the international and U.S. field to the Montrose brand.

Golfers will have to qualify in AJGA-endorsed tournaments to get here. Last year, the AJGA put on 101 tournaments throughout the U.S. The Bridges tournament is listed on the organization’s website: The field will likely be 60 young men and 36 young women. The golfers who will be competing are typically NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 golfers. Many go on to have professional careers in golf. Most of the PGA Tour players — alumni such as Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas, Michelle Wie and Britney Lincicome — have teed it up in AJGA tournaments before turning professional and becoming stars.

It’s expected that 20 to 50 coaches from the top collegiate golf programs will be attending in order to observe and possibly eye recruitment. The AJGA has more than 7,300 junior members and 1,000-plus collegiate coaches as part of its membership. Some 765 AJGA competitors made college commitments in 2020.

The three-day, 54-hole tournament will also include social activities, a junior-amateur team event where local golfers can participate. Proceeds from the junior-am event will benefit AJGA charities and scholarships and local non-profits which will be decided later as the event unfolds.

“This is a big deal, a great tournament for Montrose,” said Ty Jennings, one of the organizers of the tournament. “Some of these competitors will fly into town with parents, friends, coaches. The golfers will be ranked junior players from Europe, China, Japan and from all over the U.S. They’ll be getting to Montrose two to three weeks early to adjust and to practice.” Jennings said local tourism and hospitality businesses will benefit and that one competitor has already visited The Bridges to check the course layout and facilities.

There will be six “local” exemptions, meaning they could come from high school golf programs in Colorado. One likely exemption is Jordan Jennings, MHS senior, who is the current state 4A golf champion. Jennings will play for Colorado State University next season. He was a member of the MHS golf team that won three out of four recent 4A championships.

The City of Montrose has been involved in previous recreational tourism that have included youth teams involved in basketball, gymnastics, soccer and swimming.

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