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Youth Development

Golf’s valuable life lessons drive Arizona junior golf. Answering the call to “grow the game,” the sport has never been more approachable and the benefits so clear.

The First Tee of Phoenix impacts more than 150,000 youth annually by providing affordable access to golf for young people from all walks of life, particularly those who otherwise might not have an opportunity to play. They learn life skills and lessons through the fundamentals of golf and the Nine Core Values: Honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

Youth on Course partners with local golf courses to subsidize youth access to the game through $5 (or less) green fees for its 90,000 members across 1,400 golf courses nationwide. To date, 28 Arizona facilities participate in the program, and in 2021, 8,800 rounds were played.

The Junior Golf Association of Arizona (JGAA) “educates, motivates and inspires future leaders through golf.” Through funding by The Thunderbirds and many others, tournament fees for all juniors are subsidized, and further support is there for those who need it. Nobody is turned away for lack of entry fees. The JGAA offers college scholarship programs, and two Valley students of modest means recently (2021 and 2022) received the Evans Scholarship, each valued at $120,000 over four years.

Since 1987, the JGAA’s annual Itty Bitty Open has been introducing 3-5 year-olds to the game at roughly 20 Valley locations. For free. JGAA members annually compete in the Mack Champ Invitational, a tournament for the game’s best junior golfers of diverse backgrounds. JGAA partners with The Desert Mashie Golf Club – formed by Phoenix-area, African-American golf enthusiasts in 1946 – to host the Desert Mashie Spring Championship, first held in 1981 at Encanto Golf Course.

USGA, LPGA Girls Golf of Phoenix empowers girls ages 3-18 with engaging opportunities to dream big, build confidence, and develop athletic abilities through practice sessions, tournaments and family events. Affordable, annual membership is open to all levels of play.