Post-Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado era begins to take shape with release of 2022 junior schedules; major championship lineup undergoes alterations
By Gary Baines – 2/25/2022
Six years ago this month, the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado was formally launched at the 2016 G4 Summit at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. It marked a new era for junior golf in Colorado, with the hope that the organization would be a one-stop shop for young golfers in the state.
Late last month, the founding partners of the JGAC, the CGA and the Colorado PGA, announced with much less fanfare that the Alliance was going by the wayside and that they were going to “serve junior golfers independently beginning in 2022.”
In other words, the junior golf landscape in Colorado is going to bear some resemblance to what it did in 2015 and earlier — though with some notable differences.
“To ensure the needs of all junior golfers in Colorado are adequately met in 2022 and beyond, both organizations will refine their focus and tailor programs to the specific needs of all junior golfers within their respective organizations,” last month’s release said. “… Both organizations are committed to the Colorado junior golf community and will work diligently to ensure youth golf opportunities remain available and accessible statewide.”
Relationships between the CGA and the Colorado PGA have had their ups and downs over the decades — as many relationships do — and now they’re at the point they’ll be on independent but parallel tracks regarding junior golf starting this year, but with a commitment to support each other’s efforts in that regard.
“The CGA looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the Colorado PGA to maximize opportunities for all junior golfers in Colorado,” said Ed Mate, executive director of the CGA.
“The Colorado PGA will remain committed to supporting junior golfers and their families through a combination of existing and new junior golf programs,” said Bob Doyle, interim executive director of the Colorado PGA.
How that will look moving forward began to take shape on Friday when the two organizations released their junior tournament schedules and related information.
One of the most apparent changes regarding high-level junior golf — what had been called the Tour level by the JGAC — is that some of the junior majors in Colorado will be significantly different.
The CGA will run the CGA State Junior Championship (June 19-23 at CommonGround Golf Course for open-age competitors and Aug. 1-3 for those 13 and under, 11 and under and 9 and under) — along with USGA junior qualifiers (June 13 at Ptarmigan Country Club for the U.S. Junior Am and June 27 at Eisenhower Golf Club for the U.S. Girls’ Junior).
The Colorado PGA will oversee three majors — the Colorado Junior PGA Championship (now in its 48th year; July 11-13 at Fossil Trace Golf Club); the Aurora Junior Championship, a newcomer to the major lineup (June 21-23 at Murphy Creek Golf Course) and a season-ending Colorado PGA Junior Invitational, which will bear some similarities to the old JGAC Tour Championship (Oct. 8-9 at site TBD).
The Section also will run an extensive schedule of non majors for juniors, including qualifiers for the IMG Academy Junior Worlds and Optimist International, along with the local Junior Ryder Cup. (Note: the national Junior PGA qualifiers are decided at the Colorado Junior PGA).
The State Junior Championship will be replacing the Colorado Junior Amateur and the Colorado Junior Match Play, the oldest of the junior majors, dating back to 1951 (boys) and 1953 (girls). But in recent years, the Junior Match Play drew the weakest field of any of the Colorado junior majors. Now, the State Junior Championship will be similar to many USGA championships — part stroke play, part match play. The first two days will be stroke play, with the top 32 boys and top 32 girls advancing to match play. After the round of 32 on June 21, the round of 16 and the quarterfinals are set for the penultimate day, and the semifinals and the finals for June 23.
Dates for the State Junior Championship and the Aurora Junior overlap, so there won’t be anyone winning the Colorado junior Grand Slam in 2022.
Event registration on the CGA junior side will open on March 15, while CPGA junior events have various registration opening dates.
Besides all of the above, the AJGA will host three tournaments in Colorado in 2022: the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior June 7-9 at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve; the Colorado Springs Junior by Centura Health July 26-28 at The Club at Flying Horse; and the AJGA Junior Open presented by the City of Montrose Aug. 2-4 at The Bridges.
In addition, the CGA and the Colorado PGA will be affiliated with programs that started in their respective spheres. For instance, the CGA will oversee the local version of the ever-growing Youth on Course subsidized-rounds program, the Hale Irwin Player Program, boys and girls Junior America’s Cup and the Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy. The Colorado will handle PGA Drive Chip & Putt and PGA Jr. League. Both the CPGA and the CGA will continue to have Golf in Schools elements.
Speaking of Drive Chip & Putt, a record four Coloradans will be competing in the National Finals at Augusta National on April 3: Matai Naqica of Centennial, Sophia Capua of Aurora, Anthony Chen of Aurora and Judd Nikkel of Fort Collins.
For more information about Colorado junior golf opportunities, click on the following:
(About the writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was voted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. Email: ColoradoGolfJournal@mac.com)