A new junior golf tour will make its debut in Georgia in July, but this one will have a different purpose than the other state, regional and national tours that hold junior events in the Peach State.
The Victory Junior Tour will hold its first ever event at Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee July 24-25, with tournaments scheduled for later this summer in Michigan and St. Louis. The tour’s plan for next year is to play six events each in the Southeast and on the West Coast with a national championship in the Midwest, with the aim of creating awareness of pediatric illnesses.
The Executive Director of the Victory Junior Tour is Jeff Amershadian, a former Georgia PGA member who left the golf business to work in the financial services industry.
“I was a PGA pro for ten years and worked in private equity for about 10 years, and I wanted to get back into golf, but not as a club pro,” Amershadian says.
A family member of Amershadian’s fought a battle with pediatric illness, and he decided he wanted to do something to create awareness of pediatric illness, focused more on the research side.
Victory Junior Tour is a non-profit 501-c-3, and Amershadian says 90 percent of the funds raised by the tour will go to pediatric illness research. The 2017 charity partner of the Victory Junior Tour is Enduring Hearts, with the tour’s goal to work with a different local, underfunded charity each year to help them reach their fundraising goals.
The vehicle for creating awareness for pediatric illness will be a junior golf tour that Amershadian hopes will be able to give junior golfers and their parents “a better experience” than they are receiving from the various junior tours that hold events in the state.
In order to accomplish that goal, Amershadian says Victory Golf Tour plans to “get some Tour pros involved.”
Either a Tour player or a top PGA pro will offer clinics during the tournaments and Amershadian says 12 to 14 PGA Tour members will take part in a pro-am that will be held at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., the day after the PGA Tour RSM Classic at Sea Island GC ends this November.
The top finishers from the junior tournaments played this year will earn spots in the pro-am field as well as receiving tickets for the final round of the RSM Classic.
“We’re just trying to promote junior golf and to provide a better experience for the parents’ dollars,” Amershadian says. Victory Junior Tour will play its events at top courses around the country, with Cuscowilla consistently ranked as one of the elite courses in Georgia.
For 2017, Amershadian says the Victory Junior Tour will play at least five events, with tournaments scheduled in Michigan in August, St. Louis and Southern California in September and Phoenix in October. Each tournament will have two age groups for boys and girls, ages 13-15 and 16-18, and the results will be recognized by the Junior Golf Scoreboard.
After being out of the golf business for a decade, Amershadian has discovered that starting a first class junior tour that plans to play in different parts of the country presents a serious challenge. But Amershadian has taken on challenges in the past, including a car accident that almost ended his golf career shortly after he concluded his college playing days at Alabama.
Amershadian competed in several PGA Tour events and won on mini-tours and a Georgia PGA tournament, but a back injury he suffered in the accident kept him from pursuing a playing career. He spent most of his time as a club professional working as an instructor and hopes that the clinics that will be part of the Victory Junior Tour events will be of value to the junior attendees.
The Victory Junior Tour is also seeking local and national sponsors that want to participate in the tour’s events or the pro-am in St. Augustine, with the Victory Automotive Group the tour’s first partner.
For information on the Victory Junior Tour, call 404-474-8886 or visit its website at victoryjuniortour.com.