Jr. Notes: After win, Duffield heads to Nicaragua

If you ask Nick Duffield what the highlight of his summer has been, you might expect him to tell you about the final-round 63 he shot to win the AJGA Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior. For the average junior golfer, that kind of victory would be a defining moment in their young life. But Duffield is not the average junior golfer, and it’s tough for on-course achievements to match his character.

When many other junior golfers would be reveling in their success, Duffield was preparing for something he says is far more profound. Just two days after winning the first AJGA event in which he had ever competed, Duffield, a 16-year-old from Chesapeake, Ohio, took off for Nicaragua with his church’s mission group. For one week, he and 45 other members of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church helped to repair and improve a local orphanage. Duffield helped construct playgrounds and bike roads, distributed clothes and shoes, and even played soccer with the kids.

Although the purpose of the trip was to help children in need, his work with the orphanage has helped him gain perspective on his own life.

“It really shows you how blessed we are,” says Duffield. “These kids were so excited just to get sandals.”

While the mission’s physical impact can be seen in the roads and structures they helped to create, the value of Duffield’s experience extended far beyond any building. He was given the opportunity to participate in a baptism in a pool near the dorms where he was staying, solidifying his spiritual connection to the orphanage and to the small South American community.

Though he is only going to be a junior in high school, Duffield recognizes the intrinsic worth of his efforts. When asked if his first AJGA victory could compare to his first mission experience, Duffield answered without hesitation.

“Golf is just for fun,” he says. “The trip was more rewarding.”

Duffield now faces the seemingly less-daunting task of competing in a full schedule of AJGA and PGA Jr. Series events, but he feels more relaxed and ready to meet challenges. He will apply many of the lessons he learned on the mission to the mental aspect of his golf game.

“I just get to go out there and have fun.” he says. “I realize how lucky I am.”

– Matt Bernstein

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CHINA GIRLS: In August 2012, China’s first “girls only” junior tournament will be played on the Annika Course, at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China. There will be two divisions at the 54-hole stroke-play competition – girls under 18 and girls under 15. The tournament is open to all junior girls.

The three low scorers win an exemption for the AJGA 2012 Annika Invitational in Orlando, Florida.

“We enjoy a long-standing relationship with Annika and are excited to have helped create China’s first ‘girls only’ junior championship,” said Tenniel Chu, the vice chairman of Mission Hills Golf Club.

Annika Sorenstam will be at Mission Hills for the event to host several activities, including skills clinics for competitors.

“I am very excited to expand the Annika Invitational format to Mission Hills in China” Annika said. “Mission Hills has been a leader in growing junior golf throughout Asia, so I am extremely pleased to partner with them to bring the first girls-only event to China. I want girls around the world to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, just like I did.”

– Christina Thomas

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HOPE IN SOAP: With a final round score of 68 and a three-round total of 218, 14-year-old Timothy Colanta rounded out the top five at the AJGA Junior All-Star at Penn State this week.

He was thrilled with his playing, and happy that he stayed at a hotel. Each time he’s away from his home in Monroe, N.J., he can collect more soap and shampoo for those in need.

“I’ve always collected the little soaps and shampoos since I started playing golf and traveling,” he said. “In January of 2010, my family had a big box and decided to start packaging them up and sending them to homeless shelters.”

It’s a family affair. His dad, mom, and younger brother help organize the soaps into bags and get them in the hands of the needy.

Colanta calls his work “The Cleanliness and Godliness Project,” inspired by a Francis Bacon quote: “Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from due reverence to God.”

In addition to donations to the homeless, Colanta’s project has aided the “Wounded Warrior Project.”

Colanta has had plenty of time to collect toiletry items – he played his first tournament at age 5 and travels the country for AJGA events.

“A lot of the junior tours encourage us to give back, and that’s just my way of giving back,” he said. “I’m not at home all the time for community service and I can at least do this.”

– CJ Lotz

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SHORT SHOTS: John Farese of Sayville, N.Y., and Natalie Turk of Franklin, Tenn., were presented the 2011 Presidents’ Leadership Award Thursday at the AJGA’s Rolex Tournament of Champions at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore. . . . Vincent Martino of Southlake finished at even-par 213 to win the HP Byron Nelson Junior Championship by one shot over Stratton Nolen. . . . Christian de la Cruz of San Antonio clinched a two-shot victory in the PGA Junior Series tournament at New Mexico State University GC for the boy’s 16-18 division . . . . At the PGA Junior Series held at The Eisenhower Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colo., Bobby Gojuangco of San Diego beat out Trey Kidd of Honolulu by one shot to win the boy’s 16-18 division, shooting a 4-under total 74-69-69. . . . Philip Barbaree of Shreveport, La., defeated Matthew Walker of Ottumwa, Iowa, in a one-hole playoff at the AJGA Junior All-Star at Eagle Ridge in Galena, Ill. Barbaree finished with a three-round total of 219.

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