Optimist Links Newsletter

February 2009

2009 Qualifying Tournament Schedule Finalized
The dates of the official Optimist qualifying tournaments have been finalized. In 2009, there will be 56 Optimist District qualifying tournaments in 34 states and four Canadian provinces. The Optimist District qualifying season kicks off in the Atlantic Central District on April 25 with a qualifier at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point, NJ. Qualifying tournaments continue throughout April, May and June, with the majority taking place the last half of June. Many Districts also hold a series of local pre-qualifying tournaments that determine which golfers advance to the District finals.

Junior golfers who participate in Optimist District tournaments compete for the opportunity to qualify for the summer Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. A set number of qualifying spots in each age division are granted to each District tournament.

Please take a moment to review the information on your District qualifier by locating your tournament date on the Master Calendar of District qualifying tournaments (click here for the schedule). Each District has a designated page on the Optimist International website listing the tournament date, location, age divisions offered, entry fee and more. Please contact Andy Hudson at golf@optimist.org or (800) 500-8130, ext. 209 to change or add any information on your District's page. It is also important to provide a way for golfers and parents to register for your qualifier. The Optimist Junior Golf database has the ability to create a customizable Tournament Entry Form for your District qualifier that can be saved as a PDF file and made available for download from the Optimist International website. Please contact Andy Hudson for additional details.

Qualifying Method Reminder
New in 2008, the qualifying method established by the Optimist Junior Golf Committee continues for the 2009 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. The goal of the Committee is to create a championship event at PGA National that will serve as many junior golfers as comfortably possible and that will have the greatest chance of being completed in its entirety. This goal was achieved in 2008.

As was the case last year, each District is granted a set number of qualifying spots in each age division for all Optimist qualifying tournaments. The number of 2009 qualifying spots designated to a District are determined based on the number of junior golfers who participated in that District's qualifier last year. Please review the District Qualifying Cover Sheet that was mailed to you in October to determine the exact number of qualifying spots for which your District is eligible this year. A duplicate copy of this sheet will be e-mailed to each of the District Chairs again within the next few weeks. And, a hard copy of this sheet will also be mailed to all District Chairs in April along with the OIJGC player registration packets.

2009 Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team
The 2009 Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team is a special award recognizing the academic accomplishments of junior golfers who are past participants of Optimist International championship tournaments or District qualifiers.

The team will consist of four golfers who will be between the ages of 16 and 18 as of the last day of the 2009 OIJGC (August 2, 2009). Junior golfers selected for the team will receive an automatic exemption into the championships and complimentary registration. The exemption includes an invitation to participate in the 2009 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships without having to play in a qualifying tournament. The team will also be introduced on stage during the international championships.

Applications for the Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team are currently being accepted and are due no later than April 11, 2009. As a District Chair, you are encouraged to spread the word about this program to past participants of your District qualifier. For more information, click here.

Palmer Golf Supports Optimist Championships as Sponsor of Long-Drive Contest
Showing its support of aspiring young golfers, Arnold Palmer Golf Management has signed on as the exclusive sponsor of the Long-Drive Contest at this summer's Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Each summer more than 650 junior golfers ages 10-18 come to the courses of PGA National to compete in the Optimist championship event. Throughout their stay, golfers have the opportunity to participate in a number of competitive and entertaining events in addition to tournament play. The Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest is the pinnacle of these events, with golfers, their families and guests gathering to watch the competition as finalists combine power and control at the tee.

Junior golfers will attempt to qualify for the 2009 finals during their practice rounds on July 24 for ages 10-15 and July 29 for ages 16-18. The Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest finals will take place on July 26 and 31 for ages 10-15 and 16-18, respectively.

For more information, click here.

Pull Cart Usage
A common question from District Chairs, parents and golfers involves the use of pull carts during the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. Please see below for a letter from last year's Junior Golf Committee. The policy for the international championships for 2009 remains unchanged: golfers in the boys and girls 10-11 division only are permitted to use pull carts. Golfers in all other age divisions must carry their golf bags. No exceptions.

PLEASE NOTE: District Chairs are empowered to adjust rules regarding pull cart usage at their District qualifying tournaments. You are encouraged to follow the same policies as the international championships, but you may allow pull carts in any/all age divisions as you see fit based on the difficulty or conditions of the golf course, extreme weather, etc. To be fair to all participants, you should notify everyone of your decision on pull cart usage well before the date of your qualifying tournament.

Dear Junior Golfers and Parents:

The Optimist Junior Golf Committee is aware of several other golf organizations' rules on pull cart usage at their junior tournaments. Due to the size and scope of our championship tournament, pull carts are only allowed for the boys & girls 10-11 divisions at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. Golfers in the boys & girls 12-13, 14-15 and 16-18 divisions are required to carry their golf bags. This policy is a condition of the competition and there are no exceptions.

During the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, tournament administrators are faced with the task of coordinating play for up to 400 golfers on as many as four golf courses per day. Optimist International staff and volunteers provide extensive transportation during the championships including shuttling golfers to and from the driving ranges & practice greens, rental van transportation for golfers & spectators involved in a shotgun start, and immediate & effective course evacuations during dangerous weather situations. The logistics involved in transporting this many people are extremely challenging, even under the best circumstances. The priority is-and always will be-on the safety of the young participants and spectators. The Committee feels that the current policy best ensures this outcome.

The Optimist Junior Golf Committee reviews all Optimist Junior Golf policies and procedures (including pull cart usage) on an annual basis. The Committee is aware of other organizations' rules regarding pull carts and will make future policy changes that are in the best interest of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships and its participants.


The Optimist Junior Golf Committee

Please note: Golfers in the boys & girls 10-11 divisions only who wish to use a pull cart at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships must use a pull cart provided by Optimist International and may not use their own equipment. For more information, click here.

Volunteer News
Planning for this year's Optimist International Junior Golf Championships is swinging into high gear! The 15th annual event will take place from July 23 to August 2 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the home of the PGA TOUR's Honda Classic.

Over the years, we have been very fortunate to have outstanding support from our network of volunteers. We are, once again, going to need an effort from all of you to make sure that The Optimist continues to be on the "must-play" list for junior golfers and their families.

We are sure that you know at least one person who would like to become involved in the international championships. It may be a person who has helped you at the District level or someone who is new to the program. Regardless of their interest in golf, we need them! The Junior Golf program has become a huge success within the Optimist International organization due to the commitment of volunteers. Please let other Optimists know about the program and how they can get involved.

At last year's event we introduced some new opportunities for volunteers to work with the players. We will be continuing and expanding these opportunities at this year's event. Everyone seemed to enjoy the new responsibilities and taking even more ownership of our event!

A volunteer packet will be sent in April to District Chairs and other volunteers from last year's international championships and Tournament of Champions. Feel free to send copies of these materials to other potential volunteers. Volunteer schedules are completed on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to return your application as soon as possible so that you are not shut out of your favorite assignment. Remember, you don't have to be a golfer to be a good volunteer...just someone who enjoys working with kids and helping out. We have a little something for everyone!

As in years past, we will be sending the volunteer application by mail. The final information and volunteer schedules will be sent in June by e-mail only (unless you specify that you would like to receive this information by regular mail). This saves on postage and copying costs and also allows you to receive this information faster.

We look forward to seeing you, along with some new faces, at this summer's Optimist International Junior Golf Championships!

Schedule of Events for 2009 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships
The schedule of events for the 2009 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships is in the process of being finalized. The event will take place July 23-28, 2009 for the boys & girls 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15 divisions and July 28-August 2, 2009 for the boys & girls 16-18 divisions. For a detailed schedule of events, click here.

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