Just a few years ago, a national tournament for high school golf was a foreign concept. Today, what started as an idea has become one of the country’s most important high school golf tournaments.
“Many other high school sports such as football, basketball, and baseball have national tournaments for high schoolers, so we thought, why not golf?” said National High School Golf Association (NHSGA) manager Chris Noble. “This event has become the pinnacle of high school golf and valuable to college coaches seeking hidden talent they may not see on the traditional junior golf circuit.”
One of the nation’s most diverse and inclusive national junior golf tournaments, this year’s High School Golf Invitational featured more than 500 of the top high school golfers from nearly all 50 states. The National Invitational is an event dedicated to celebrating and showcasing high school golfers at the highest level––public or private, Division 1A or 6A. This event highlights what makes high school golf so unique: families, teams, and coaches from all different cultural and financial backgrounds, races, religions, gender identities, and sexual orientations. No two players or teams are alike.
“The National Invitational is a celebration of a player’s hard work and excellence during their high school golf season,” said Noble.
Players showed strength and composure over the three-day, 54-hole event at close to 7,000 yards for boys and 6,000 yards for the girls. Twelve boys finished at even-par or better but none could catch Jake Albert, a freshman from Virginia, who fired an impressive 10-under-par three-day total. On the girl’s side, 10 girls finished at 2-over-par or better, with Jennifer Seo, junior from Arizona, taking home medalist honors with a 3-under-par three-day total. Both medalists received an exemption into the Junior PGA Championship hosted at Cog Hill in August.
Winning is nothing new for the girls from Lambert High School in Georgia. The defending champions came out of the gate firing on all cylinders and led this year’s Invitational wire-to-wire, finishing with a three-day total of 880 (+24).
“All the credit goes to the girls,” said Shane Fortenberry, Lambert High School Golf Coach. “We started the season with one goal, and their hard work and dedication throughout the school year made that possible. We look forward to competing in the National Invitational for years to come.”
In a similar fashion, the boys from Rivers Academy in Georgia couldn’t be caught after an opening round of 292 (-14), the lowest single-day team score recorded in event history. They finished with a three-day total of 875 (+11).
For the second consecutive year, Titleist and FootJoy were the Presenting Partners with the NHSGA and the National Invitational to help enrich the high school golf experience. Both partners were on-site, providing every player with the tools to play their best.
“At Titleist, we want to connect with the next generation of dedicated golfers,” said Chris Rohrs, Golfer Insights at Acushnet. “Our partnership with the NHSGA allows us to reach the players, coaches and parents and build those relationships. We’ve made great strides in the first two years working with the NHSGA and look forward to doing more in the future.”
Although some of these players will go on to play collegiate varsity golf, the reality is that only seven percent of high school golfers across the nation will have that opportunity. For those not playing varsity golf in college, the NHSGA arms students with knowledge on how to continue competing outside of the traditional varsity college golf experience. The NCCGA is the governing body for collegiate club golf and offers a competitive outlet for thousands of college students yearly.
“The National Invitational is an amazing event that gives these kids not only a great golf experience for their resume but also one of the most memorable experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Derek Fox, PGA Professional and Corner Canyon High School (UT) Golf Coach. “We are honored to have been a part of your tournament and look forward to hopefully returning for many more in the future.”