The JGAA’s mission to educate, motivate, and inspire Arizona’s future leaders through golf recently focused on kids 3-5 years old at the 2021 Itty Bitty Open. In its 33rd year, the January 16th event served hundreds of the little ones to a fun-filled introduction to the game.
“We had a great turnout, with everyone taking the necessary health and safety steps,” said Scott McNevin executive director of the JGAA. “This is the biggest event for younger kids that we host, so we really try to make it as memorable as possible and 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 a trophy, and they usually also get tickets for the WM Phoenix Open’s R.S. Hoyt, Jr. Dream Day. Unfortunately, dream day was cancelled this year due to fan restrictions at the tournament.
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.