SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois, will host the Western Golf Association’s 102nd Western Junior on June 17-20.
The annual championship features an international field of 156 top junior players, all vying to win the country’s oldest national junior golf championship.
First held by the Western Golf Association in 1914, the Western Junior has served as a proving ground for many future PGA TOUR stars, including past champions Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar also have competed in the Western Junior. The event was not played for several years during World War I and World War II.
The Western Junior has been played in more than 15 states and at several prestigious Chicagoland golf clubs. The event was played last year at Evanston Golf Club in Skokie, Illinois, and was won by Jeff Doty of Carmel, Indiana.
Rich Harvest Farms first hosted the Western Junior in 2003, when Brady Schnell posted a 72-hole total of 2-over-par 290 to claim the title. That remains the record for highest winning score since the Western Junior switched from a match play format to a 72-hole stroke play event in 1999.
“We’re excited to bring the Western Junior to such a distinguished venue as Rich Harvest Farms,” said Vince Pellegrino, Western Golf Association senior vice president of tournaments. “The layout of this course should again prove to be a true challenge for our entire field of exceptional junior players.”
Among those expected to be in this year’s field are: Vanderbilt verbal commit and 2018 U.S. Amateur match play qualifier Jackson Van Paris of Pinehurst, North Carolina; Rolex Junior All-American Alexander Yang of Carlsbad, California; and Arizona State verbal commit Jeewon Park of South Korea.
Designed by owner and Western Golf Association Director Jerry Rich, Rich Harvest Farms was rated fifth “Best New Private Course” by Golf Digest in 1999. In designing the course, Rich drew upon his background as an avid golfer who has played many of the world’s finest courses.
“I am thrilled to once again host the best junior golfers in the world,” Rich said. “It’s all about growing the game and elevating junior golf tournaments to the level of professional ones. With the way junior golfers play today, you’d think you’re watching members of the PGA TOUR!”
Rich Harvest Farms also hosted the WGA’s 2015 Western Amateur, won by Dawson Armstrong in one of the most dramatic finishes in the championship’s storied history. On the 20th hole, Armstrong closed out the final match against reigning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Aaron Wise by holing a 20-yard bunker shot for eagle.
“Mr. Rich has been a loyal supporter of our championships and of the Evans Scholars program,” Pellegrino noted. “We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to return to Rich Harvest Farms for another Western Golf Association championship.”
Attendance and parking for the Western Junior are free. For more information, visit www.thewesternjunior.com.
About the Western Golf Association (WGA)
The WGA began in in 1899, when 11 Chicago-area golf clubs formed an organization to promote their interests in golf. It was in Golf, Illinois, where the WGA established its headquarters. At the nearby Glen View Club, the WGA held its first Western Open and Western Amateur championships to showcase the exceptional talent of golfers who called the west their home.
The WGA promotes the use of caddies and supports the Evans Scholars Foundation’s efforts to award full tuition and housing college scholarships to hardworking caddies with limited financial means. The WGA also conducts four amateur championships – the Western Amateur, Western Junior, Women’s Western Amateur and Women’s Western Junior – and two professional events – the Web.com Tour’s Evans Scholars Invitational and the BMW Championship, the penultimate event of the PGA TOUR FedExCup Playoffs.
About Rich Harvest Farms
Located less than an hour outside of Chicago, Rich Harvest Farms is an ultra-private, members-only club, consistently ranked in Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.” Owned and built by Jerry Rich, the course consists of 18 perfectly manicured holes and is a 1,820-acre showcase of nature and agriculture. With state-of-the-art meeting spaces, numerous lodging options and non-golf amenities that include a private car museum, miles of horseback riding trails and three fully stocked lakes for fishing, Rich Harvest Farms offers distinguished facilities in a luxurious setting.
Rich Harvest Farms, a par 72 with Professional tees at a length of 7,715 yards, has and continues to play host to numerous amateur, collegiate, and professional tournaments. These includes the Palmer Cup (2015), Solheim Cup (2009), as well as the Ryder Cup Captain’s Challenge (2012) and numerous USGA Qualifiers. This list also includes the Western Amateur (2003, 2015) and Western Junior (2003, 2019). Northern Illinois University Huskies Men’s and Women’s Golf Teams are proud to call Rich Harvest Farms their home course and so the following have also been hosted at the course: NCAA Men’s Division I Central Regional (2007, 2014), MAC Championship (2003, 2012), an annual Northern Intercollegiate (2010-Present) and most recently the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships (2017).
A hidden gem at Rich Harvest Farms is the Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois, a nonprofit junior golf organization founded in 1998 by Jerry Rich and longtime friend Don Springer. Today, the Foundation has impacted the lives of over 150,000 youth through golf and its valuable life lessons.