The 37th Girls’ Junior Americas Cup (GJAC), an international team competition among the top four junior girls from the Western United States, Canada and Mexico was held at Walla Walla Country Club, July 29-32 of last year. The Washington Junior Golf Association (WJGA) served as host last year. This July, the tournament will be contested July 28-30 at Cheyenne CC, Wyoming.
I have a deep sense of gratitude for the GJAC and the WJGA as both organizations were founded by my mother, PNGA Hall of Fame inductee and the “mother of junior golf,” Joan Teats. She laid the groundwork for Junior Golf in the state of Washington and dedicated herself for over 30 years to its growth. Joan loved the game and kids, and surrounded herself with many great people to carry on her legacy. Today I serve as both team captain for Washington and the current president of GJAC, and I feel so honored to see the dedication of one woman unfold every July.
Being chosen to play in GJAC and to represent your state and country is one of the highest honors in girls’ Junior Golf. Each team selects their team members differently, but all players must exemplify outstanding skill, sportsmanship, discipline, courtesy, and strength of character. Once they depart for the tournament and return, they are mentored by their team captain on “how to be a team mate” and are also expected to follow a code of conduct (no cell phones on golf course property) during the entire experience. This is the first big step in preparing them for collegiate golf. Last year, we had approximately 20-30 coaches in Walla Walla recruiting.
During the event, last year, the first perpetual Joan Teats Inspirational Team award was given by WSU golf coach Kelli Kamimura to team Hawaii. Although many teams exhibited the qualities and attributes on which the tournament was founded, this team, and the “Aloha Spirit” they lived by, stood out from the others! Team Mexico was the winning team at 5 under par.
The highlight of the week for me was the bet I won with the superintendent. Although the turf was lush, the rough was long, there were a lot of trees, small greens and difficult pins locations. We shook hands before the tournament. I said the winning team would be MORE than 3 under par, and he took 3 or less, and he was setting up the course! These girls were impressive people and players!
All results and photo gallery can be viewed on our website atwww.gjac.org, and you can like and follow us on Facebook as well!
Thank you to all my LPGA sisters who are involved in developing young girls through the game of golf. Apparently it’s working!