Northview junior Ben Graeth is one of the 78 boys and girls to step up to the tee in the 2022 AJGA Dana Incorporated Junior Open that begins on July 19 through July 21 at Sylvania Country Club.
Graeth began playing with family members at the age of 2 at several local golf courses including Highland Meadows Golf Club, the family’s home course. According to his mother Judy Graeth, “Ben is following in the footsteps of his two grandfathers, Howard Kurth and Daniel Graeth, his older brother Adam, and me who all have played a lot of competitive golf.”
He plays with the Toledo Junior Golf Association, which was established in 1973 as a non-profit organization to give junior golfers an opportunity to gain tournament experience in a competitive playing environment.
In addition to being a member of the Northview golf team, Graeth is also a member of the Wildcat hockey team.
Sam Sutton of St. Francis de Sales and Logan Sutto of Athony Wayne high schools will also play the event. The coed field, which includes 41 boys and 27 girls, brings golfers, ages 12 to 19, from 18 states, Canada, China, Mexico, and New Zealand to Sylvania.
The remaining 10 spots for the field have been filled by AJGA members through an 18-hole qualifier at Sylvania Country Club on July 17.
The AJGA Dana Incorporated Junior Open tournament is free and open to spectators. “This is a great opportunity for members of the community to watch the up-and-coming future stars of golf compete,” noted Jeff Cole, Dana spokesperson.
Trophies are awarded to both the girl and boy with the lowest scores for the 54 holes of play. “In addition, the top girl will also receive a sponsorship exemption to play in the Dana LPGA Open Presented by Marathon at Highland Meadows Golf Club, Aug. 31 through Sept. 4,” Cole announced.
The 54-hole, stroke-play tournament is in its fourth year. The event earned the 2021 Charitable Giving Award from the AJGA after raising more than $110,000 for Special Olympics of Lucas County and the AJGA ACE Grant program. The tournament was named Open Tournament of the Year by the AJGA in 2020 after earning Newcomer of the Year honors from AJGA in 2019.
“Dana and the membership at Sylvania Country Club are terrific to work with and provide tremendous support to our junior golfers. It’s not surprising the event has earned recognition from the AJGA in each of its first three years,” said Jacob Kennedy, AJGA tournament manager. “We are so excited that it is back. The field includes some of the top junior golfers in the country, giving Toledo-area residents and college coaches alike an opportunity to see up-and-coming golf talent – while also raising money for charity.”
Famous AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, and Alison Lee.
The 6,837-yard, Par 72 Sylvania Country Club is a historic course that has hosted numerous junior and amateur events, including the 1954 Ohio Amateur, where Jack Nicklaus encountered Arnold Palmer for the first time. Besides Palmer, past champions crowned at SCC include Frank Stranahan, Byron Nelson, and Sylvania’s own Mel Woelfling.
In addition to the tournament, the Junior-Am fundraising tournament, similar to a pro-am but with junior golfers instead of professionals, was played on July 18. This event is presented by Accenture and Hylant and again raised money for Special Olympics of Lucas County and the AJGA ACE Grant program.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. Coaches from many universities and colleges will be in attendence for the three-day tournament.