PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2016) – LPGA star Lexi Thompson was named an Official Ambassador for PGA Junior League Golf at the 63rd PGA Merchandise Show Outdoor Demo Day today. The announcement was made in conjunction with the kickoff to the PGA of America’s Centennial celebration and was televised live on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive from Orange County National Golf Center in Orlando.
Thompson joins Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie and Rickie Fowler as ambassadors for the youth golf program, owned and managed by PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America, that allows boys and girls ages 13 and under to learn and play the game in a fun, recreational setting.
The announcement concluded with Thompson hosting a clinic for more than 40 boys and girls from Orlando-area PGA Junior League Golf teams. The PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day is the world’s largest professional golf testing event. It takes place the day before the opening of the PGA Merchandise Show, an industry-only event held Jan. 27-29, at the Orange County Convention Center.
PGA Junior League Golf has experienced exponential growth over the last three years, with a nearly 100 percent increase in participation each year. Last year, 30,000 boys and girls played on 2,500 teams nationwide; 17,500 played on 1,425 teams in 2014; and 9,000 played on 740 teams in 2013.
“I’m honored to join Rickie, Rory and Michelle as a PGA Junior League Golf Ambassador,” said Thompson. “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, helping provide them with all the opportunities I had.”
In 2007, at only 12 years old, Thompson became the youngest female player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. In 2014, Thompson earned her first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Thompson hails from a golf family with two brothers also playing competitively: Nick, who plays on the PGA Tour, and Curtis, a COBRA PUMA GOLF staffer playing the Web.com tour. She has also made a name for herself in the fitness world with features in Shape Magazine and Self Magazine, among others.
“We’re thrilled to have Lexi join a prestigious group of Official Ambassadors for PGA Junior League Golf,” said PGA President Derek Sprague. “Lexi is undoubtedly a role model and inspiration to our future generations of golfers, and having her on board is a great way to kick off another participation record-breaking year in 2016.”
Through PGA Junior League Golf, kids learn the game under the direction and instruction of PGA/LPGA Professionals who serve as Team Captains. Much like other league sports, kids wear numbered jerseys and play on teams with their friends.
The primary focus of PGA Junior League Golf is on the recreational and developmental nature of regular season matches, held during the summer, for golfers of all abilities. Teams play 9-hole matches in a popular two-person scramble format, where Team Captains can substitute players every three holes so that all golfers can participate.
Following the regular season, 10-player all-star teams comprised of a combination of players in each league are assembled, who move through sub-regional and regional championships. Eight regional champions advance to the PGA Junior League Golf Championship—won by Team California last year at Disney’s Palm Course at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.