The welcome news arrived this week that the International Junior Masters, the longest-running junior invitational golf tournament in the USA, would add a Girls Division in 2021. We jumped into our golf cart and motored on over for an interview with Jeff Kamien, tournament director. His insights are exciting and very positive, and we want to share them with you. Have a read of our nine-question interview with Mr. Kamien, on the 2021 GIRLS International Junior Masters, the very first of its kind.
1. Tell us why 2021 is the year to introduce the girls division of the International Junior Masters. This is exciting news, and probably a long time coming.
We talked about this direction for quite a while. Part of the process was how to make the event equitable, especially on Thursday morning, when 40 matches fill the entire golf course. We didn’t want any excuses, especially when a strange year like 2020 offers ample opportunity to make them. The President of the East Aurora Country Club this year is Ann Woloszynski, the first woman in our history to hold that position. Her presence helped to drive home the benefits of doing this in 2021. When we do our post-tournament review I am sure we will identify several areas where we could have done better. As we have every year, we will learn from them and apply the changes necessary for next year.
2. Tell us about the event and how you will get the word out to the top juniors in the USA and beyond?
We will have eight girls in the field this year. They will play two medal rounds, and we will recognize a medalist. Their scores will seed them into the quarterfinals and, after three rounds of match play, we will have our first champion. To that end, we see the 2021 playing as a regional event. We are focused on New York state, Pennsylvania and Ohio but of course we are hopeful that the IJM’s reputation will allow us to reach into other areas of the US and internationally.
3. The IJM has had wonderful relationships with international federations from South Africa, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, and other countries. Will these relationships ensure that girls from those countries will be able to compete?
We do not anticipate much international play in 2021, given the state of the USA’s borders. We are hopeful that 2022 will bring participation in the Girls and Boys divisions from our usual international partners.
4. Talk a bit about the course set-up for the girls division. East Aurora Country Club is known to be a shot-shaper’s course, one that requires a good bit of patience.
The club built new tee decks a few years back on a number of holes, to accommodate golfers of different lengths and skillsets. These decks will come into play for the girls. We have not had any substantive discussions about course setup as of yet, though.
5. What aspects of the golf course will favor the girls over the boys?
At the end of the day, the undulating greens will favor great putters, and the drive zones will reward accurate tee balls.
6. At BuffaloGolfer, we’ve seen and heard of tournaments where the girls division is something of an afterthought, both in set-up and in execution. What steps will the International Junior Masters take, to ensure that the Girls and Boys divisions are viewed as equitable?
The IJM Committee, Club management and EACC membership take great pride in the fact that we deliver a first class experience to junior golfers and their families. We have every intention of providing the same experience to the girls. We are very confident in our ability to do so.
7. Will there be a local qualifier for the girls division, as there is for the boys division?
There will be a local qualifier, with at least one place up for grabs. If we have a high level of local interest, we may increase that number to two. We have already received a number of impressive applications from the form on our website
8. On the topic of outreach, will the IJM reach out to girls athletic programs in the western New York region, to encourage girls to come and watch a new generation of talent (and perhaps inspire them to take up the game?)
On Tuesday, after all the juniors have teed off, we plan on having a PGA Junior League “mini-tournament.” We will encourage girls in the league to join in. Upon conclusion of play Tuesday, we will be holding our long drive competition and will encourage the PGA Junior League kids to stick around and watch.
9. What question have we failed to ask, that you would love to answer? Please ask it and answer it, and thank you for your time.
What happens if something goes wrong, or you don’t anticipate something, or …?
We expect to learn a lot from the .from the staging of the 2021 Girls Division of the International Junior Masters. We have reached out to local LPGA professionals like Cindy Miller, and they have responded with suggestions. We have a subcommittee dedicated to the girls division, and members will take lots of notes, to ensure that each year’s tournament leads to a better one the following year.
The 68th International Junior Masters will be held at East Aurora Country Club June 29-July 2. For those interested in sponsorship opportunities, volunteering, or simply learning more about the IJM, please contact Tournament Director Jeff Kamien at firstname.lastname@example.org