Premier junior tourney finds sponsorship

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson, right, spoke at a news conference Monday at Dalhousie Golf Club announcing an American Junior Golf Association tournament will be played at Dalhousie from June 18 to 21. With Knudtson were, from left, Cord Dombrowski, Dalhousie founder; Andrew Greenfield, AJGA tournament director; and C.A. Roberts, AJGA board member. (Fred Lynch)

Montgomery Bank, Pepsi help bankroll event at Dalhousie.

Adults dressed in suits and sports coats converged on Dalhousie Gold Club on Monday.

It was the first sure sign that an army of youth golfers, approximately 200 strong, are not far behind.

Representatives of the American Junior Golf Association conducted a news conference along with the Dalhousie adminstration and Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson to unveil the sponsors and details of the first AJGA event to be played in Missouri.

The organization, which has a membership of 5,000 strong, will hold the first of three yearly tournaments at Dalhousie from June 17 to 21.

C.A. Roberts, who is on the AJGA Board of Directors, said the organization conducts 76 tournaments annually, and about five to six tournaments any given week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

"But this will be one of the bigger, more significant events," Roberts said.

The field, which will be comprised of boys and girls ages 12 to 18, is expected to assemble from about 15 to 25 states and three to five countries.

The actual three-day tournament will be proceeded by a Sunday qualifier and a junior-amateur fund-raising tournament on Monday. Unlike most AJGA events, the tournament will also include a cut, as the field of 144 will be sliced in half after two rounds.

"It's going to be pretty much what you see on TV, but with kids," said Dalhousie managing member Cord Dombrowski, who is tournament co-chairman with Knudtson.

The three-year pact will include a similar tournament next year over the week of the Fourth of July and will conclude with the organization's Rolex Tournament of Champions in 2009.

Pepsi and Montgomery Bank were introduced as major sponsors, and beneficiaries for the net proceeds were also identified. Net proceeds will be split 50-50 between AJGA and Dalhousie. The AJGA, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to helping young golfers earn golf scholarships. It will target its half of the proceeds for its ACE program, which provides college financial assistance to its members. Dalhousie will donate its half of the proceeds to the high school golf teams at Central, Jackson, Advance, Notre Dame, Saxony Lutheran and Sikeston.

"The net proceeds will hopefully fund them for a couple of years," Dombrowski said.

Knudtson wanted to be involved heavily in the tournament and got his wish.

"We had a chance to partner up with what I think is a very professional, classy organization," Knudtson said. "And that's why I chose to get involved, and that's why I chose to partner with Cord as co-chairman of the event, an event that will truely make a difference in our young people's lives."

The youngsters have also gone on to shape others' lives.

Players that have been AJGA members include Tigers Woods and Phil Mickelson, who won the Tournament of Champions three straight years.

"The quality of players and the quality of individuals you're going to see in this tournament are unmatched, and I also can't wait for those kids and their parents to see this community," Roberts said.

Roberts said he's been familiar with Dalhousie, which opened in 2001 and was recently selected the No. 1 course in Missouri by Golf Digest, for about four years. He's excited for the field to experience Dalhousie, which he considers to be among the top courses.

"I'm one of the biggest fans of Dalhousie in the world, and I cannot wait for them to appreciate this golf course the way that I do, and see what a great strategic golf course it is and what a great tournament course it is," Roberts said.

Roberts related a story that involved an AJGA staff member, who is in charge of scheduling and picking golf courses for tournaments. Roberts raved about Dalhousie beforehand and then paid a visit to the course with the staff member. The staff member had kind words regarding Dalhousie the day of the visit, but Roberts didn't know if he was just being gracious while on the spot.

"He called me back the next day and said, 'Not only does the AJGA want to be there for three years, but can we host our Tournament of Champions on the third year?" Roberts recalled.

Roberts said the Tournament of Champions will add significance to the first two tournaments since the best players will want to play Dalhousie prior to the tournament, which is the crown jewel of the AJGA.

About 85 percent of the field will be determined around five weeks before the tournament, based on performance-based criteria. The rest of the field will be determined through the Sunday qualifier, which will consist of 100 golfers, and around six exemptions awarded to area golfers.

Dombrowski said the exemptions will likely be filled through qualifying tournaments around the region about a week before the AJGA event.

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