Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

March 3, 2012

Another award

Community's support keeps Bluegrass Junior strong at 29

ASHLAND — There is a good reason why the Natural Resources Partners Bluegrass Junior Golf Tournament will return to Bellefonte Country Club for the 29th consecutive year this June: It is a well-run event played on a beautiful course where the hospitality is superb and the young golfers are treated royally not only at the country club but in restaurants, motels and businesses throughout this community.

But don’t take our word for it. The number of awards the Bluegrass Junior has received from the American Junior Golf Association is impressive.

The latest honor is the AJGA’s Charitable Giving Award for last June’s tournament. The award honors a championship that exceeds expectations in fundraising and contribution to grassroots junior golf charities.

As one of the longest-running tournaments on the AJGA schedule, the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior previously has won the Volunteer Award (2001), Junior-Am Award (2001, 2008) and Tournament of the Year (2009).

“We have people who have worked every single year the AJGA has been at Bellefonte and people take vacations around the event so they can be a part of it,” said Tammy Wall, media chairman and former tournament chairman. “When Natural Resource Partners got involved it became the philosophy to give back and that is why we have seen such a growth in the past few years.”

The community continues to rally around the event year after year as it needs two rounds of the Junior-Am Fundraising Tournament to accommodate all people wanting to participate. In 2011, the event gave $28,000 to a number of local high school golf programs as well as the Yancey Scholarship Fund and the Eastern Kentucky Junior Golf Association. Over the past five years, the tournament has given more than $153,000 to local charities and the AJGA Foundation.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized for our tournament’s true purpose,” said Jeff Conley, tournament chairman. “We love being able to give our local juniors the opportunity to compete at the highest level and support local high school golf teams with our contributions. Being able to assist the AJGA in their charitable programs makes it even more satisfying.”

Not only does the tournament annually attract some of the best young golfers in America — particularly those who live in the East, South and Midwest — but it also gives young golfers from this area a chance to play with the nation’s best. Playing with the best can be a humbling experience but it also is an excellent opportunity to learn from other gifted young golfers. In short, it is an excellent learning experience and the quality of golf in area high schools has improved in part because of the Bluegrass Junior.

The young golfers will be back at Bellefonte Country Club on June 12-15. We are confident that their experience in this community will be a positive one. After all the country club and this community have been rolling out the red carpet for them for almost 30 years. May they continue to do so for years to come.

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