By AJGA Staff
The Woodlands, TX – In April 2023, the AJGA supported and assisted in the first all-girls Mack Champ Invitational held at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas.
While this is the third annual Mack Champ Invitational, this was the first year that the boys’ and girls’ events were ran separately. The boys’ event was held earlier this year in March at Memorial Park. Same as the boys’ event, the AJGA traveled to the course in order to assist with the golf operations and communications for the event.
AJGA alumni, Cameron Champ and his father, Jeff Champ, started the Cameron Champ Foundation in 2020. In 2021, the Mack Champ Invitational was created and named in honor of Mack Champ, Cameron’s late grandfather. The tournament has a mission consisting of three main components.
The first component is to provide a premier competitive experience for junior golfers from diverse backgrounds. The second is to create an event where players and their families can connect with each other, share their journeys, and build relationships that will last a lifetime. The last component is to provide a springboard into top-tier junior tournaments where players can gain exposure to college coaches.
Cameron had a successful junior golf career with six top-10 AJGA finishes, 11 Invitational appearances, and Rolex Junior All-America honors in 2012 and 2013. He went on to play golf at Texas A&M University, turned professional in 2017 and has since won three PGA TOUR events.
The Cameron Champ Foundation provided inspirational messages to the girls during the tournament weekend. One inspirational messages included the statement, “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re going.”
The girls in the field got a glimpse of the future after having the opportunity to play the same course the professionals play. Infrastructure consisting of grandstands, media towers and hole location signs were scattered across the course as the first LPGA major of the year, The Chevron Championship was set to run the following week.
This year’s girls’ field consisted of 45 players split between two age divisions, 13 to 18 and 12 and under. Of the field, 80% were current AJGA members (36 out of 45). Additionally, there were five AJGA Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant recipients that were also in the field.
The champion of the 13-18 division earned fully exempt status with the AJGA. Fully Exempt status is the highest level of Performance Based Entry status within the AJGA. It gives the junior the highest priority when applying to tournaments.
AJGA member Alaythia Hinds of Rancho Murieta, California, won the 13-18 division in thrilling fashion after a playoff on the 18th hole with a birdie over fellow AJGA member, Callia Ward from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hinds carded a 36-hole tournament total of 74-70 for an even-par 144.
For the 12 and under division, Aleah Shields-Rodipe of Conroe, Texas, won shooting 70-79 for a 5-over-par 149 total, holding off Vivian Lott of Fayetteville, Georgia, by three strokes.
To learn more about the work of the Cameron Champ Foundation visit their website here .