By Brian Hurlburt
John Hawk, the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association president, sees and feels the momentum the program is building as the calendar soon turns to 2024. Many goals have been reached, and more success is yet to come.
Over the last couple years, the SNJGA board and directors and staff have made it a main mission to increase participation in tournaments and raise the level of competition in them. According to Hawk, the mission is being accomplished.
“When I reflect upon 2023, what I think about are the tournaments and the emphasis that we have placed on them to attract our top players to stay local and play in the SNJGA more often,” Hawk said. “Our work and outreach are paying dividends because we are finding that our better players are playing in our tournaments. That was one of the things that we set out to do this year, so it is great to see the results from our efforts.”
It is terrific for the SNJGA to see the enhancement of the events, but the higher quality fields mean that kids and parents can stay home to gain exposure and status. Several tournaments offer AJGA participation stars, and when an SNJGA member wins or does well in a local tournament with a deep field, that can open the eyes of college coaches.
“When the better players compete in SNJGA events, it builds credibility for the organization and puts us in a better position moving forward, especially with the younger kids,” Hawk said. “It also allows kids to stay in town and save moms and dads a lot of money when it comes to travel. I believe our kids have an expectation to play in some top-notch tournaments against quality players and they are getting that opportunity in our tournaments.”
Hawk credits former Coronado High coach Joe Sawaia for helping lead the charge in addition to former SNJGA member Grant McKay who assists with the tournaments. Plus, a loyal board, staff, parents, players, and volunteers. Hawk and the rest of the team look forward to 2024 and building on the momentum while also focusing on free clinics and introducing the game to a wider spectrum of youngsters.
“I am excited about what we’ve done with the free clinics that we have offered to introduce the game to young kids who knew nothing about the game of golf before attending a clinic,” Hawk said. “We are also excited about the Operation 36 model and what it is offering the kids, the community, and moms and dads.”
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Hawk is very appreciative for the efforts of many who assist the SNJGA.
“I can’t be thankful enough for our great staff, and we are very appreciative of what former director Renee Rocco accomplished before leaving for a new opportunity at UNLV,” Hawk said. “We are always examining how we can best operate, and we are very appreciative of the Southern Nevada Golf Association staff and Ann Sunstrum for how they have helped us in many ways. We look forward to working more closely in 2024.”
Look for a 2023 on-course recap from Tournament Director Joe Sawaia in December.