The event, one of the 90-95 put on by the American Junior Golf Association each year, will attract 144 top-notch competitors to the Stonehenge Golf Club in Warsaw.
“The AJGA is the elite tour for high school golfers in the country,” said tourney chairman and Warsaw Community High School boys golf coach Ben Barkey. “This is the best of the best. Players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelsen played in these type of events.
“This is an exciting event to host. It brings a lot of revenue into the area for things like hotels and restaurants and it’s a great opportunity for the players to get some great exposure.”
Barkey, himself a former standout golfer at WCHS, came up with the idea a couple of years ago to get the AJGA to include Stonehenge on its tour. This is the second year for the event at the course, which his highly-successful program calls home.
“I just wanted to get my players an opportunity to play in events like this one,” Barkey said. “It opens a lot of doors for players who want to play in college. Last year we had coaches from 25 Division I college programs at the event.”
The event will also benefit the Warsaw Junior Golf Foundation with proceeds going to it. Key to the success of the Stonehenge Junior Open is the support of major sponsors like Zimmer, Biomet and DePuy. Another big factor is the support of the Cerulean Restaurant in Winona Lake, which will donate 10 percent from each bill Monday-Thursday when persons mention AJGA to the event and will also host a cookout for players and their parents taking part in the tournament.
“We’re fortunate to live in a great community where these companies and businesses sponsor an event like this,” said Barkey. “To put on an event like this, we have to have their support. We really want to thank all of them, including the Cerulean Restaurant for donating 10 percent of the bill for anyone who mentions the AJGA Open.”
An AJGA study following the tourney last year at Stonehenge estimated that it brought in close to $250,000 in revenue to the area.
The field, which will include about 100 boys and 40 girls, is almost set. Some 100 players will play in a qualifying tourney at Stonehenge on Sunday for the final six spots. Practice and a Player Am will be held Monday with the first two rounds of the tourney Tuesday and Wednesday. The field will then be cut in half for the final round on Thursday.
Barkey says that the majority of the players will come from the Midwest, but that a year ago there were players from as far away as California and Mexico. Adam Wood of Zionsville, one of 23 players in the field from Indiana, shot 10 under par last year to win the event.
The WCHS program, which tied for a sixth-place finish at the IHSAA State Finals in June, has six players entered in the open. Tyler Ostrom, a 2012 WCHS graduate who will play at Ball State University, finished third in the Open last year.
Jon Schram, a veteran of junior golf events, leads the group of Tigers. The standout, senior-to-be will be playing in his fifth AJGA event this summer, according to coach Barkey. Schram is ranked 89th nationally in his age group and 276th among all golfers in the AJGA. He tied for eighth place individually at the State Finals with a three-over par score of 147 for the two round tournament.
Warsaw will also have seniors Tim Ahlersmeyer and Evan Cultice in the tourney, along with juniors Ryan Cultice and Jared Essig and sophomore Josh Ahlersmeyer.
“This is just a great event to host for our players and for our entire area,” concluded Barkey.
For more information or to volunteer for the tournament, contact Stonehenge at (574) 269-6111.