Complete Beginner’s Guide to the AJGA | Junior Golf Hub (2023)

Junior Golf Hub is here to support you in every step of the college recruiting process, and a large part of that is understanding what the AJGA is and how it works. AJGA tournaments play an impactful role in junior golf rankings and can be the key to attending your favorite college.

The first step is to take a deep breath – getting into each stage of golf, whether it’s at the junior, college or even professional level, takes time. Between referring to our AJGA guide and starting to play in their events, you’ll get a hang of their process in no time.

What is the AJGA?

Complete Beginner’s Guide to the AJGA | Junior Golf Hub (1)

The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) is one of the most prominent junior golf tours in the U.S. Hosting several high-quality tournaments each year, the AJGA is a prime place to strengthen your competitive skills and get noticed by college coaches. AJGA junior golf tournaments also help you rank on Junior Golf Scoreboard.

Does the AJGA have an age limit?

Yes, the AJGA does have an age limit. Golfers must be between the ages of 12 and 19 to compete in these junior golf tournaments.

Am I ready for the AJGA?

There’s a reason why AJGA tournaments are so popular – their operations, golf course hosts and travel opportunities are outstanding. So how do you know when you’re ready for this level of play?

  1. Note your progress and standing in local and regional events. If you’re consistently winning or highly competitive, challenge yourself with the AJGA.
  2. Review scoring averages by gender and event type. We have a chart summarizing those below and another guide that delves more into scoring averages at each level.

AJGA Golf Membership/Tournament Cost

The cost to play in an AJGA golf tournament each year depends on how many tournaments you play and how far you’re planning to travel. Junior golfers and their families typically pay $1,000-$3,000 per year for an average of two events.

Here’s a basic breakdown of the costs:

  • Membership: $215-$285 in the U.S., plus $25 for international mailing addresses
  • Event Fees: $230-$375
  • Qualifiers Cost: $110 for AJGA members, $135 for non-members
  • Travel: $1,000-$1,500 per event, including transportation, hotel and food

The AJGA also funds the ACE Grant, a financial aid program that has provided $3.6 million to eligible participants over the years.

Benefits of joining the AJGA include 40% off TaylorMade golf clubs and equipment, other exclusive offers and 30 days free on the Junior Golf Hub app for all your college golf recruiting needs.

AJGA Event Types

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There are five types of AJGA tournaments, and certain age brackets can apply. Below are the following event types (the letter denotes the tournament type on the AJGA schedule):

  • Open Events (O)
    • Open to all AJGA members
    • Largest single category of events with 65+ tournaments per year (605 of AJGA schedule)
    • Uses Performance Based Entry and field sorted by number of Performance Stars
    • Most events include one-day Qualifiers
    • Able to play in up to five Open events
  • Invitationals (I)
    • Require an invitation to compete
    • Around 15 Invitationals in the schedule each year
    • Entry criteria varies, though usually sorted by player position in the AJGA Rolex Rankings
    • Often have marquee sponsors like Annika Sorenstam, Shanshan Feng, Stacy Lewis, the Haas family and blue-chip companies like Rolex, Wyndham and Polo
  • Junior Golf Hub Preview Series (P)
    • Designed for junior golfers who have never played in an AJGA event before
    • 15 events, including four that are designed specifically for the 12-15 age bracket
    • No Performance Based Entry
    • Applicants accepted by graduation year (priority goes to seniors, then juniors, etc.)
    • Junior Golf Hub attends every event – come see our booth and learn more about the college recruiting process and earning golf scholarships
  • ACDS Junior All-Stars (J)
    • Events for AJGA members in the 12-15 age range
    • Approximately 20 events each year
    • Uses Performance Based Entry
    • Most events include one-day Qualifiers
    • Can play in up to four ACDS Junior All-Star events
  • Senior Showcase (S)
    • Designed for unsigned graduating seniors in high school
    • Two main showcase events, typically in February and December
    • Uses Performance Based Entry
    • Note: the December event typically aligns with the Golf Coaches Association of American conference in Las Vegas and is well attended by college golf coaches

It’s important to create a winning golf tournament schedule that fits your needs each year as you get closer to playing golf in college.

How Do I Get Started on the AJGA?

Once you’ve become an AJGA member, you’re ready to compete. Your age will determine the path you take.

For example, if you’re 16 years old or older, you’ll likely want to play in a Preview Series event because there are no Performance Star requirements. Not only will you have the opportunity to earn Performance Stars, but you’re more likely to get into the event because the field is sorted by graduation year.

You can also check out Open Qualifiers and non-AJGA events on the Performance Based Entry (PBE) Map, where you can still earn Performance Stars.

For ages 12 to 15, there’s an entire series of junior golf tournaments dedicated to this age range – the ACDS Junior All-Star. Playing in the Junior All-Star Qualifiers is a great place to start, which allows you to earn Performance Stars to play in the Junior All-Star Events. You can also apply for the Junior Golf Hub Preview Series events, which have a specific field dedicated to this age bracket. Lastly, there’s always a chance to give Open Qualifiers a shot.

Here are some helpful hints if you’re at the beginning of your journey to play golf in college:

  1. Make sure your game is ready for this level of competition (see the scoring average chart above). It can be an expensive endeavor on a big stage where results are widely seen. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself, it just means practice and dedication are encouraged so you can make a good impression.
  2. Start competing early in order to gain experience and become familiar with the system for when it counts during your peak college recruiting years. Waiting until your junior year or senior year in high school to play in these events could make it more difficult to see how you compare to other junior golfers your age and earn enough Performance Stars to compete in certain events.
  3. Here’s a spring college golf checklist that will keep you organized as you head into the busy tournament season.

Understanding Performance Based Entry

Performance Based Entry (PBE) means you will have to earn your way into most AJGA tournaments, much like professional golfers do to advance to the PGA and LPGA Tours.

In order to gain entry to the tournaments, you’ll have to earn Performance Stars. The more Performance Stars you accumulate, the more likely you’ll be granted entry into an AJGA tournament. When you use these Performance Stars to enter an event, you lose them and have to earn more to play again.

There are four different ways to accumulate Performance Stars:

  1. Sign up for the AJGA
  2. Earn them through solid play in Qualifiers
  3. Play well in an AJGA event
  4. Play well in select non-AJGA events (noted on the PBE Map)

To see how many Performance Stars you can earn above (they can be dependent on age and finish), Junior Golf Hub has made some fun charts in our Performance Based Entry guide. It’s important to note that any Performance Stars you didn’t spend will carry over year to year, allowing you to save them up for the next season.

Why the AJGA?

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After reading through all of this, you may ask yourself if the AJGA is worth it. While it is possible to play college golf without ever entering an AJGA tournament, there are still some worthwhile advantages to competing on this tour.

The AJGA is the largest junior golf stage, which allows you to test your skills against the best in the country. AJGA rankings are also one of the first places college coaches look for recruiting purposes. If you’re looking for college golf recruiting tips, like how to increase your Junior Golf Scoreboard ranking, the AJGA is a solid path.

Lastly, the roster of AJGA graduates on the PGA and LPGA Tours speaks for itself:

PGA Tour Graduates:

  • Tiger Woods
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Bubba Watson
  • Davis Love III
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Jordan Spieth
  • Justin Thomas
  • Daniel Berger
  • Stewart Cink
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Jason Dufner
  • Harris English
  • Bob Estes
  • Jim Furyk
  • Lucas Glover
  • Bill Haas
  • Russell Henley
  • Morgan Hoffmann
  • J.B. Holmes
  • Charles Howell III
  • Matt Kuchar
  • Zach Johnson
  • Justin Leonard
  • Hunter Mahan
  • Steve Marino
  • Ryan Moore
  • Sean O’Hair
  • Patrick Reed
  • Webb Simpson
  • Brandt Snedeker
  • Scott Stallings
  • David Toms
  • Gary Woodland
  • Scott Verplank.

LPGA Tour Graduates:

  • Paula Creamer
  • Inbee Park
  • Morgan Pressel
  • Brittany Lang
  • Stacy Lewis
  • Alison Lee
  • Brittany Lincicome
  • Katie Futcher
  • Julieta Granada
  • Pat Hurst
  • Vicky Hurst
  • Jennifer Johnson
  • Ariya Jutanugarn
  • Moriya Jutanugarn
  • Cristie Kerr
  • I.K. Kim
  • Paige Mackenzie
  • Kristy McPherson
  • Wendy Ward

Navigating the AJGA can be difficult, but if you really want to sign that National Letter of Intent (NLI), it’s an important path to take. That’s why Junior Golf Hub sponsors their Preview Series – we believe in their mission and quality of competition to produce some of the best golfers in the world. Enjoy the multi-year journey and watch your golf game flourish to new heights.

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