Summer time is when many golfers participate in tournaments for the purpose of fun, challenge, prestige, and for socializing. Ashley Armstrong is playing in tournaments this summer for an additional reason, to raise money for charity. Ashley, a junior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, is taking part in the Leadership Links Program, which offers an opportunity to raise money for charity by simply playing tournament golf. Ashley is no stranger to the green, being part of her high school golf team, planning to play for Notre Dame in the fall of 2011, and hoping to become a professional golfer after that.
To prepare for her future golfing dreams, Ashley has arranged a summer full of junior golf tournaments. She has decided to participate in the Leadership Links opportunity and to donate the money she raises towards the Kids Golf Foundation. Ashley says, “I chose the Foundation as the recipient for my fundraising efforts because it is one of the best known golf organizations in Illinois. They teach the fundamentals of golf and give a great way for kids to get started early in the game.”
The Kids Golf Foundation is fortunate to have Ashley raising donations on their behalf and plans to use the money accrued to help support programs, activities, and events. Not only will Ashley’s participation help raise funds for the Foundation, but it will also help make others aware of the impact that the Kids Golf Foundation has on junior golf.
“We first met Ashley in 2009 during some of our Solheim Cup activities,” said Holly Alcala, Foundation Director. “She was very impressive in the way she carried herself and communicated with us. It is wonderful to see her continue and stay committed to the Foundation.”
The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), who administers the program, established it with the goal to ‘help develop young men and women through leadership opportunities like raising money for local junior golf charities and giving of their time by volunteering.’ Within the Leadership Links Program, there are a variety of ways that junior golfers can give back to their communities. One of those ways is the program that Ashley Armstrong is participating in, Birdies for Charity.
A junior golfer (AJGA member or non-AJGA member) participates in the Birdies for Charity Program by playing in junior golf tournaments during June and July. Before the junior golfer plays in the tournaments, they secure pledges from individuals for every birdie that they make during those two summer months. If a participant secures a two dollar pledge from an individual, that individual commits to donating two dollars every time the junior golfer makes a birdie in a June or July tournament.
Last year the program had 62 total participants from 20 different states. The participants were able to raise $55,000 for 39 different charities. This year, The United States Golf Association (USGA) in partnership with the AJGA is taking the initiative to match funds raised up to $1,000 if the participant is supporting a junior golf charity. This means if a participant raises $500 the USGA will match that donation with another $500.
The AJGA is hoping for even more participants than last year; the Birdies for Charity Program is open to all junior golfers who want to support a non-profit charity. Beth Dockter, the Director of Special Projects for the AJGA, says, “We want as many junior golfers as possible participating in the program and giving back the best way they can.” There is still time for interested junior golfers to sign up to participate in the program. All information is available on the Kids Golf Foundation’s website under the Get Involved and Volunteer sections.
Participants of Leadership Links not only benefit the non-profit organization of their choice but also themselves, by having an opportunity to build positive character traits, such as leadership through raising donations and by forming a commitment to a charity.
Last summer, the Foundation had the privilege of having junior golfer, Daniel Stringfellow (St. Viator), select the Kids Golf Foundation as his charity of choice for Leadership Links. With Ashley participating this year, the Foundation hopes to continue the trend of junior golfers in Illinois giving to the Kids Golf Foundation.
“We hope other junior golfers see the example that Ashley is setting and choose to get involved in the program,” said Alcala. “Children and teens that form favorable characteristics and habits at a young age are more likely to have a positive impact on our society as adults.”
When reflecting on what made her want to take part in the program, Ashley Armstrong says, “I realized the many opportunities the game of golf has given me, and I know that by participating in this program I can provide other kids with the same opportunities. My future university, Notre Dame, expects the members of the golf team to participate in service projects, so I am excited to continue serving my community into the collegiate level.”
The Kid Golf Foundation continues to positively impact children through golf programs and remains a junior golf resource year-round to individuals wishing to start a program in their area. For more information about Leadership Links or to get involved with Leadership Links, please contact the Foundation at (630) 466-0913 or visit our volunteer page under the “Get Involved” section on our website at www.kidsgolffoundation.org.