By Amanda Herrington, AJGA Communications
Since 2010, the AJGA has sent two junior golfers to represent the United States at the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy. Played at an Open Championship venue, the competition offers an opportunity for American golfers to experience the game in the birthplace of golf. Amidst an international field, tough playing conditions and visits by royalty, Casey Danielson of Osceola, Wis., and Gavin Hall of Pittsford, N.Y., both finished in the top 20 out of 56 competitors from 31 countries.
“It was such a great experience to be paired with players from different countries,” said Danielson, who was also paired with boys throughout the entire tournament. “It was fun to talk to them and to see how their golf game fits in their culture.”
The 54-hole stroke play event, which sees boys and girls vying for the same trophy, was played at Royal Troon Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland, Sept. 11-13.
“These players get to experience links golf at its finest on an Open Championship venues against strong international competition,” said Graves, who has made the trip all three years. “The playing conditions are tougher than anywhere you can find in the states. It teaches the players to be more creative with their game and it gives them a different perspective on how golf can be played.”
Danielson and Hall battled winds up to 60 mph with Danielson shooting rounds of 78-75-82 for a tournament total of 235 and Hall carding rounds of 82-75-76 for a 233.
“It was a great to see how international players play so different than American golfers,” Hall said. “I really liked talking to them and watching their game from afar.”
Off the course, players were treated to exclusive perks, including a tour of Prestwick Golf Club, venue for the first Open Championship in 1860. Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, visited with the field after the first round, and Hall was even a guest at his dinner table.
“He was such a nice guy and got along with everyone well,” Hall said of his conversation with The Duke. “He loves golf, so that made it easy.”
After Prince Andrew heard of Hall’s hole-in-one during the practice round, His Royal Highness arranged for Hall to receive a framed photograph of the hole, the famed “postage stamp” No. 8.
Competing against an international field and socializing with royalty, Danielson and Hall received a different perspective on the game of golf.
“Being one of the only Americans, people expect a lot out of you,” Hall said. “I learned the way you conduct yourself during tournaments goes a long way for your golf game.”
“This experience gave me another point of view because golf in Scotland is so much different,” Danielson added. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to play in Europe again so this will certainly help for my confidence.”
Danielson and Hall join past AJGA players to make the trip overseas including, Cody Proveaux and Taylor Coleman (2011) and Anthony Paolucci and Kristen Park (2010). Past participants include Rory McIlroy, Laetitia Beck and 2009 champion Moriya Jutanugarn.