Honolulu’s Michelle Wie sure knows what it feels like to be a Hawa‘i junior golfer.
Before her rise to stardom, the 16-year-old began her career with the Hawai‘i State Junior Golf Association.
And now she’s giving back to the tune of $50,000 to the storied organization.
“The HSJGA was a valuable stepping stone for me and my development as a player. I was able to compete with other juniors all over the state which allowed me a venue to meet new friends and challenge my game both mentally and physically,” Wie said in a press release.
The money is earmarked for a travel scholarship fund to help financially needy members of the HSJGA to travel for competition around the state and to the Mainland.
“We are thrilled for our members for this opportunity. Michelle understands the burden on many families to pay for tournament and travel expenses and wants to help other junior golfers in Hawa‘i with financial needs to compete,” HSJGA and Kaua‘i Jr. Golf Association president Mary Bea Porter-King said in a press release. The HSJGA conducts educational workshops annually for their 500-plus members statewide with college workshops, rules clinics, along with mental and physical training.
The HSJGA also conducts tournaments and Mainland qualifiers around the state that qualifies over 160 juniors annually to compete in national events on the Mainland.
“The HSJGA was formed in 1998 to give all children in Hawa‘i the same opportunities to play and compete as their counterparts on the Mainland. This (Wie’s donation) will really level the playing field for all junior golfers in Hawa‘i,” Porter-King said.
Wie, who is vying for a spot at the 2006 U.S. Open in a sectional qualifier in New Jersey, said the HSJGA has prepared her to qualify and play in her first national championship on the Mainland, (USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship) when she was just 10 years old.
“I believe for anyone to develop and mature as a player and a person, you need to regularly put yourself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations to test yourself and grow as a golfer and a person. I hope I can help other junior golfers in Hawai‘i follow their dreams to be the best they can be,” Wie said.
Wie’s biggest donation to date is her $500,000 check to the U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. She has also donated $300,000 to pay for medical expenses for sick children in Korea.
• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or email@example.com.