Does being a First Team All-American in the AJGA predict professional success?
Does being a First Team American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) All-American predict success in professional golf? We decided to crunch the numbers and share our results!
Examining results from 1978 to 2008, we found that 237 different players earned the honor of being named an AJGA First Team All-American, with 42 individuals earning the honor on multiple occasions. Of the 237, a whopping 46 or approximately 20 percent of them, went on to win on the PGA Tour, with 10 of them, or approximately 4 percent, winning major championships.
However, when looking at players who were multiple year AJGA All-Americans, the number skyrockets. Of the 42 individuals who earned this honor, 20 went on to win on the PGA Tour. An incredible 47.6 percent. Fjve of the 42 (or 12 percent) went on to win major championships.
According to research from junior golf expert Henry Brunton, each birth year can expect to have approximately 10 players become career PGA Tour players, with seven of these being born in the United States. Each year approximately 125 million people are born, so in general your odds of being a tour play are one in 12.5 million. When comparing these numbers against the odds for AJGA All-Americans, one cannot help but see how strong a predictor of future success this prestigious honor is.
“Making a Rolex All-American team is a significant distinction in junior golf that requires a tremendous amount of drive and dedication. If your name is on one of those lists you’ve accomplished something very important at this level and it stands to reason you are poised for future success in the game of golf,” says Mark Oskarson, Chief Operating Officer at the AJGA.
A couple of classes of AJGA All-Americans deserve mention, including maybe the best class ever, 1990 which featured future PGA tour winners (in brackets the number of wins); Notah Begay (4), Stewart Cink (6), Chris Couch (1), Harrison Frazar (1) and Tiger Woods (79). It also includes former PGA tour members Trip Kuehne and Todd Demsey. Another outstanding year was the inaugural class in 1978, which featured PGA Tour winners: Mark Brooks (7), Mark Calcavecchia (13), Jim Gallagher (5), Jodie Mudd (4) and Willie Wood (1).
The list also features many individuals who although they did not make it in professional golf, have significantly contributed to golf in other areas. This includes Mark Thaxton of Nike Sports, notable instructors Brian Mogg, Jon Mclean and E. J. Pfister, as well as a lengthy list of college coaches including Doug Martin (Cincinnati), Jessie Mudd (Lamar), Rob Bradley (Purdue), Billy Tuten (St Thomas), and Ryan Hybl who lead the University of Oklahoma to the 2017 NCAA National Team Title. Although they did not win on the PGA Tour, individuals like Billy Tuten had outstanding playing careers which featured a NCAA team championship, US Publix Links Championship, trip to the Masters and U.S. Open (1990/1991/1993), as well as a PGA Tour membership from 1989-1991.
The most impressive part of the players listed is their ability to be so consistent. At the best of times, golf is difficult. Many of the people listed in this article demonstrate the ability to play 20-plus years of elite golf spanning junior golf, college golf and then professional golf with very few bad rounds, let alone bad seasons. In my opinion, this ability demonstrates a level of endurance and grit, which surely separates the players who made it from those who were only to sustain their performance for shorter windows of time.
Since 2008, the list continues to show a correlation with players like Emiliano Grillo, Justin Thomas and Jordan Speith all earning First Team All-American honors. It is likely, then, that we will continue to see many future AJGA First Team All-Americans win on the PGA Tour.