Free Event Educates, Motivates and Inspires 3–5-Year-Olds
The 2023 Itty Bitty Open teed off January 14 at 21 Valley parks. Now in its 35th year, parents who attended the event decades ago are now beginning to introduce their kids to the game of golf at the same event.
“We had a great turnout,” said Scott McNevin executive director of the JGAA. “With nearly 1,000 participants, this is the biggest event for younger kids that we host. We try to make it as memorable as possible, and then build on that experience through ages 8-18.”
At the free event, each golfer received a set of plastic golf clubs, balls, bag, and visor, which they immediately put to good use swinging away under the guidance of qualified PGA and LPGA professionals.
A special prize was awarded at each site to the “Best Dressed Golfer and Caddie Team.” All winners received trophies and their caddies received tickets for the WM Phoenix Open’s R.S. Hoyt, Jr. Dream (free admission for kids).
The connection between the Itty Bitty Open and WM Phoenix Open is no coincidence. Everybody knows The Thunderbirds host “The People’s Open,” but most don’t know they support junior golf in a big way, too. The JGAA and Itty Bitty Open are two great examples. Together, they’re the spark that illuminates the passion and provides the opportunity for kids to play golf well into their teens, if not for the rest of their lives.
In the golf world, an “Open” tournament signifies that anyone can give it a go. While that certainly holds true for the JGAA and Itty Bitty Open, it’s not quite that simple for the WM Phoenix Open. All professionals in the field require some sort of tour status to get in the field. For the Itty Bitty Open, let’s just say The Thunderbirds give every kid a sponsor exemption.