By Leah Flannigan, AJGA Communications Intern
The man of the hour: Charlie Mechem
Not only does the AJGA Girls Championship showcase some of the best talent in girls’ junior golf, but it also recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to women’s golf. The Betsy Rawls award started in 2009 and was given to Betsy Rawls, the namesake of the award. During her professional golf career, Rawls collected 55 LPGA wins, including eight major championships. Her achievements earned her a spot in the LPGA Hall of Fame and the World Golf Hall of Fame. Rawls blazed a trail for women’s professional golf, as it would not be what it is today without her.
Past winners have included Betsy King, World Golf Hall of Famer and three-time LPGA Player of the year; Cindy Davis, President of Nike Golf and former President of the LPGA; and Nancy Lopez, winner of 48 LPGA events and belongs to both the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame.
This year’s honoree is Charlie Mechem, former Commissioner of the LPGA from 1990 – 1995. During his time as commissioner, major sponsors were beginning to pull away from the foundation leaving the LPGA in a difficult position. Mechem was able to reinforce faith of the LPGA in its sponsors and even strengthened their relationship. Without his ability to bring stability to the organization during that time, the LPGA and women’s professional golf would not be as strong as it is today.
Five-in-a-row for Shannon Aubert
Shannon Aubert, a native of France residing in Champions Gate, Fla., has played every year at the AJGA Girls Championship since she was in eighth grade. To give you a timeline of how long that is, she will be starting this fall as a high school senior at the Annika Academy. The AJGA Girls Championship has been played at the Furman Golf Club for five years, all of which Shannon has been in attendance.
“It’s funny to go back on the course every year and know when I was younger I would hit a 3-wood at a certain spot on No. 7 and now I use an 8-iron.” Aubert said thinking back on when she played the course as a younger golfer.
“I’ve seen this event start small and grow into an invitational-like tournament, it’s been really cool to see it develop.”
Since 2009, Aubert has finished in the top five three times, which includes two top-three finishes.
“I’ve played this tournament five times and have never won,” Aubert remarked about her past results. “Being in the top five is nothing to complain about though. In high school, I put a lot of effort into school, and as a result saw my game decline a bit. However, I realized that placing in the top five is nothing to complain about, it’s actually really good.”
Shannon’s hard work in school and golf has paid off. In July, she gave a verbal commitment to play for Stanford.
“I was talking to some other schools for a little bit but Stanford is definitely where I want to be. It has the perfect balance of athletics and academics.”
Throughout her junior golf career, Aubert has consistently been ranked within the top 12 and has even made appearances in the top five. She is a four-time first-team Rolex Junior All-American and was an honorable mention Rolex Junior All-American when she was 13-years-old.
This past summer, she played for the European team at the PING Junior Solheim Cup and gained an interesting perspective from the tournament.
“It was weird for me because I’m not an American, but I’ve played golf here my entire life and I knew everyone on the American team.” Aubert said.
The PING Junior Solheim Cup also gave Shannon a taste of what it would be like to achieve her goal of being a professional golfer.
“At the (PING Junior) Solheim Cup we were treated like pros, it made everyone work a little harder because we knew that’s where we want to be some day.”
To capture her dream of one day playing professional golf, she agrees that she will need time and growth as a golfer and a person to make it. Shannon also looks to Annika Sorenstam as a role model to one day mirror.
“I need to keep working on my game and college will help me get there. A lot of the top AJGA players are almost there. We just need more time, maturity and practice.”
Shannon also looks to Annika Sorenstam as a role model to one day mirror.
“I’ve gotten to know Annika quite a bit because I go to the Annika Academy and she represents women’s professional golf so well,” Aubert explained. “She is such a great golfer, so humble and giving.”
Shannon finished the 2013 AJGA Girls Championship tournament tied for fifth with a tournament total of 1-over-par 217.
Aubert has a bright future ahead of her and we wish her the best of luck in achieving her dreams.