New Jersey, United States: The maximum age for competitors in the US Girls’ Junior and US Junior Amateur championships will be raised from 17 to 18 years old starting with the 2017 championships, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced.
The maximum Handicap Index requirements for both championships will also be lowered, from 18.4 to 9.4 for the Girls’ Junior and from 6.4 to 4.4 for the Junior Amateur.
Additionally, sectional qualifying for the US Junior Amateur will be reduced from 36 holes to 18 holes.
“These significant changes in the USGA’s junior championships are part of the association’s continuous review of these global-reach competitions, which focuses on conducting excellent championships,” said Stuart Francis, USGA Championship Committee Chairman.
“Enhancing the player experience is paramount for the USGA as it strives to provide the most comprehensive test in junior golf on the game’s grandest stages. We are thankful to our respective junior committees, state and regional golf associations, and our industry partners for their roles in reviewing and implementing these new conditions of competition.”
Raising the maximum age brings these championships more in line with the worldwide standards for junior golfers. The age limit of 17 had been in place for both the US Junior Amateur and US Girls’ Junior championships since they were inaugurated in 1948 and 1949, respectively.
In 1964, 36-hole sectional qualifying was introduced for the Junior Amateur. In 1996, 18-hole sectional qualifying was introduced for the Girls’ Junior.
“The changes in our junior championships are being made to ensure the strongest fields possible,” said Diana Murphy, USGA President. “We anticipate that raising the maximum age will also increase our entries and participation in junior golf in general, which ties into our strategic mission for championships.
“We feel that making the changes in 2017 allows us adequate time to accurately communicate the message to prospective competitors, in addition to facilitating a successful transition.”
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