Grayhawk Golf Club to host the 2016 PGA Junior League Golf Championship

Eight, 10-player junior golf teams from across the U.S. descend on the Valley of the Sun to compete for top honor

The Southwest Section PGA recently announced Grayhawk Golf Club will host the 2016 PGA Junior League Golf Championship to be held November 18-22, 2016. The tournament is the final stop in the PGA’s Junior League, which brings together 80 all-star juniors ages 8-13 from across the U.S. to play for the championship. 

“We’re honored to host the PGA Junior League Championship,” said Joe Shershenovich, Director of Golf at Grayhawk Golf Club. “The program’s focus on ‘fun, social, and inclusive’ is exactly the type of message that will attract kids to the game of golf. With all the groundwork in place, it’s time for clubs across Arizona to get involved, field a team or two, and give our junior golfers a pathway to a game that they will enjoy for decades to come.”

The tournament kicks off with eight teams of 10 junior golfers age 13 and under competing in a match-play-style event that is the culmination of months of league play at the local level spanning 41 PGA Sections and in 48 states.

To make the finals at Grayhawk, teams will first need to advance through the Regional Championships to be held September through October. The teams that emerge – organized in matching East vs. West regions – will compete in a two-person scramble format in the championship. In its third year, the program is gaining steam in terms of participation.

Indeed, juniors are taking to the PGA Junior League like ducklings to water with a 233-percent increase in participants since 2013 when it was first introduced. And generally speaking, the number of junior golfers (ages 6-17) in the U.S. continues to climb, with a total of 3.2 million playing golf in 2014, which is up from 3 million in 2013. (Source: National Golf Foundation).

One of the likely sources of success for the program is that the team captains are also PGA professionals with a wealth of knowledge and training in all aspects of the game. That’s a key point in the opinion of LPGA superstar, Lexi Thompson, who is also an official ambassador of the program.

“I was so lucky to grow up playing golf surrounded by great mentors. Now, I want to help grow the game for the next generation of golfers, and help provide them with all the opportunities I had,” Thompson said. “I’m honored to join Rickie, Rory and Michelle as a PGA Junior League Golf Ambassador.”

Plus, the juniors participate as a team. This alleviates some of the pressure of playing individually, while at the same time, boosting the social appeal of league play.

“I think, especially for young people, bringing them together in a team concept like PGA Junior League Golf and making them feel part of one goal or one purpose is incredibly valuable,” said Rory McIlroy, PGA Junior League Ambassador. “They have the chance to accomplish something great together.”

Michelle Wie, another high-profile ambassador to the program echoed McIlroy’s sentiments. “It’s only natural that a fun team concept like PGA Junior League Golf has taken hold in just a few years,” she said.  “For generations, boys and girls have grown up in team sports. To see how they can come together and learn golf through this program is most encouraging in shaping golf’s future.”

Although the juniors and team captains will be working hard to make it to Grayhawk for the championship in November, the primary focus of PGA Junior League Golf is on the regular-season, recreational and developmental matches held during the summer. It’s a fun, social and inclusive opportunity for boys and girls ages 13 and under of all abilities to learn and enjoy the game of golf. Much like other recreational league sports, participants wear numbered jerseys and play on teams with their friends.

With a similar format to championship play, regular-season competition features “games” that include two teams playing head to head. Each team is split into four groups of players competing across four separate “matches.” Each match pits two players from one team (plus substitutes) against two players from the other team (plus substitutes).

Each match is nine holes broken into three-hole segments called “flags.” Flag no. 1 is holes 1-3, Flag no. 2 is holes 4-6, Flag no. 3 is holes 7-9. With four matches per game and three flags per match, each game is a competition for 12 total flags. The format of each match is match-play scramble. This inclusive format reinforces the team concept, creates a rich environment for learning and playing the game.

The specific timeline for each PGA Junior League golf team may vary by facility and geography, but generally, a season of PGA Junior League Golf will consist of four to eight regular-season games and may include practice sessions. These games and practices are held during spring and summer. The player registration window is usually February through April; regular-season play is usually April through July; and post-season play is August through November.

Participating clubs are located across Arizona. In the Valley of the Sun, Augusta Ranch Golf Club in Mesa; Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler; Orange Tree Golf Club in Phoenix; Palm Valley Golf Club in Goodyear; Legacy Golf Club in Phoenix; Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale; and Troon North in Scottsdale are a few on the list.

Participating clubs in Northern Arizona include Continental Golf Club in Flagstaff; Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff; and Pine Canyon in Flagstaff. Elephant Rocks Golf Club in Williams is also a participating club as well as Antelope Hills Golf Club in Prescott. In Southeastern Arizona Desert Hills Golf Course and Las Barrancas Golf Course, both located in Yuma, are participating clubs.

PGA Junior League Golf is open to any child age 13 or less. The recommended minimum age is 9, however many captains permit younger players to participate. A player cannot be 14 years of age prior to August 1st (which coincides with the end of the regular season) of the year in which they participate. For example, for the 2016 season, no participant who turns 14 before August 1st, 2016 will be eligible to participate.

PGA Junior League Golf is open to both boys and girls. Due to the program’s nurturing scramble format, all teammates can work together and contribute to winning their game, regardless of gender. Boys and girls of similar ability play and compete together in any match pairing.

To register online or learn more, visit