The Augusta Area Junior Golf Association is bigger and better this year.
The summer tournament series, which experienced unprecedented growth last year in the wake of the Tiger Woods boom, has been expanded into two sections this year to handle more golfers.
Instead of the 215 juniors through age 18 that were members of the association last year, 350 can be accommodated this year.
According to executive director Michael Carlisle, there are still about 50 openings. To sign up, call Carlisle at (803) 641-3528 for an application. The deadline for entry is June 1.
"We've improved the quality of each event and are able to handle everyone who wants to play," Carlisle said. "I'm glad to see the game is that strong, that it's still growing."
Juniors pay $75 to play in the association, which will have a minimum of six tournaments for each section. For the golfers who qualify in their age groups for the season-ending Rob Perry Championship, there will be eight rounds of golf. Another incentive for top players is earning a spot on the AAJGA team that takes on teams from the Atlanta and Savannah junior golf associations.
For the first time, Barnwell's Sweetwater Country Club has been added to the rotation. It will take the place of the Augusta Golf Course, which will be installing an irrigation system this summer and will have nine holes closed much of the time. However, the popular Sam Tweed Junior championship, annually held at the Augusta Golf Course, will be contested at a different site yet been determined.
The tournament is played in honor of the 81-year-old Tweed, a long-time Augusta Golf Course member.
BUSY MAN: Augusta's Charles Howell will be one of 10 area golfers in Monday's U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Peachtree City, Ga., but none of them will have traveled as far as the Oklahoma State golfer to play in the 18-hole event. Howell played in the NCAA Central Regional qualifier in San Antonio, Texas, which ended Saturday, hopped a plane and is scheduled for a practice round today at Braelin Golf Club, site of the Open qualifier. The other area golfers in the qualifier are Augusta State golfers Vaughn Taylor, Jamie Felder, Jeff Keck along with Chris Holroyd, Jack Fulghum III, Parisi Giovanni, Peter Hill and PGA Tour member Franklin Langham of Thomson.
Golfers who make it through the sectional will advance to the regional. Most golfers will opt to play in the regional at Settindown Creek Golf Club near Atlanta. Howell, however, has signed up to play at the Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., site of the PGA Tour's Bay Hill Invitational.
JONES BOOK: There will soon be another Bobby Jones book on the market, but this one is not a rehash of the legendary Augusta National co-founder's career or more interesting but time-worn instruction pieces. The book, Classic Instruction, incorporates never-before-published photographs and instructional notes written in 1933 by Jones, along with photos of two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and his commentary on Jones' instruction. Crenshaw collaborated on the book with writer Martin Davis, both of whom will be in Atlanta on June 6 to dedicate the book. The ceremony will take place at the Atlanta History Center's McElreath Hall and is free of charge. To reserve seats, call (404) 814-4000. A reception and book signing will follow.
OPTIMIST JUNIOR: Local qualifying for the Optimist International Junior Championships will be held June 11 at Goshen Plantation. The top boys and girl finishers in each age group will advance to the Georgia District tournament in Warner Robins. The winners there move on to the International tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The local qualifier is open to boys and girls ages 10-18 who resident in Richmond, Columbia, Burke or McDuffie counties. Entry forms are available at area golf course or by calling Keith Duncan at 650-1551. Entry fee is $25. Deadline for entry is June 3.