Optimist International Junior Golf Championships Tees Off at PGA
29 Jul, 2015
The Optimist International Junior Golf Championships has returned to PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens and will run through July 31, 2015. This is one of the largest and most prestigious junior golf tournaments in the world, and features boys and girls competing in a variety of age groups. Over 750 golfers from more than 30 different nations will travel to Palm Beach County to participate.
The Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, which has taken place in Palm Beach County for 12 consecutive years, will grow in 2015. The tournament is adding an additional age group and is expanding its length into more than two weeks. Boys and girls between the ages of 15-18 will compete from July 26-31.
No other junior golf tournament quite compares to the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, which focuses on fair competition and cultural understanding among youth. This unique tournament offers as broad a field and expanded age groups as any other in its class.
Since 1978, Optimist-sponsored golf tournaments have served as a springboard for many of golf’s greatest players. Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Tiger Woods, Michelle McGann and Nancy Lopez are just a few of today’s elite players who found their humble beginnings with the Optimists.
This world-class event originated in 1968 when three leaders of the San Diego County Junior Golf Association—Norrie West, Mrs. A.S. Smith and John Brown—carried out an idea of Brown’s by forming Junior World Golf. “I just thought it would be a great thing if young people throughout the world could meet each other and play with each other in an international junior golf tournament,” Brown said. During its inaugural year, Junior World drew entries from six foreign nations: Pakistan, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Portugal and the Philippines. In all, 475 golfers came from 20 states and seven nations. Then, in 1978, through the action of Dudley Williams, a lifelong San Diego resident and soon-to-be President of Optimist International, the Optimists became a sponsor of the event, thus creating “Optimist Junior World.” Through this partnership, Optimist International began holding qualifying tournaments for 15 to 17 year-olds across the United States and Canada. As a result, 55 tournaments drew more than 3,500 entrants.
In an effort to expand the tournament, Optimist International moved the event to South Florida’s Doral Country Club in 1995 and renamed the event the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. The plan proved so successful that after only one year, the event moved again to a more suitable location at the PGA National Resort & Spa.
Optimists have been involved in the sport of junior golf for more than 30 years by holding local, regional and international tournaments. More than 5,000 golfers compete in official Optimist District qualifying tournaments. The best of these golfers, along with international golfers from around the globe, advance to the annual Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.
In addition to providing a forum for some of the most talented junior golfers to showcase their skills, the event also creates significant economic benefits for Palm Beach County. The 2015 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships is expected to generate over $1 million of total economic impact for Palm Beach County in addition to nearly 4,000 hotel room nights. There is no other junior golf tournament in the world that stimulates bed tax revenues and direct spending over a two-week stretch, such as the Optimist’s premier event