The LPGA Foundation aims to empower young women and girls through the game of golf. Part of that mission includes increasing opportunities by partnering for greater success.
Last month (June 2020), The LPGA Foundation announced a new partnership with the Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship, providing junior golfers ages 9-18 with the chance to compete in an inclusive environment in hopes of becoming the world’s next top golf stars. The 54-hole championship will feature 140 participants, comprised of 50 boys and 50 girls, aged 14-18, and 20 boys and 20 girls, aged 13 and under.
As a part of this partnership, LPGA*USGA Girls Golf (Girls Golf) participants were nominated by their Site Directors for a chance to receive one of three complimentary entry fees into a Regional Qualifier for the 2020 Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship. Additionally, Girls Golf members that were nominated and did not win will receive $50 off of their entry fee.
This year’s winners are: Mia Caraballo (12) from LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Miami; Elise Deschaine (17) from LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Portland, OR; and Jenni Roller (16) from LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Tulsa, OK.
Mia Caraballo (12), LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Miami
Mia Caraballo was the first member of Girls Golf of Miami to advance to the high school division despite being a younger age. At 12 years old, she competes regularly with high school golfers ages 15 to 18.
“She is so advanced for her age,” said Stephanie Peareth, Site Director at LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Miami. “She is small in height and can drive the ball like a collegiate player. She works hard on her game and deserves everything! She competes in all the local junior golf tours and travels to compete whenever she can.”
Mia works with many charities involved with Girls Golf and The First Tee of Miami. She volunteers with Lighthouse for the Blind, Special Olympics, and schools for students with disabilities, along with always raising her hand to help where she can. Mia is also dedicated to her academics, balancing life as a student athlete taking high school courses.
A member of Girls Golf of Miami’s Leadership Committee, Mia is “always looking to work hard on her game and is so empowered by the LPGA Tour players.”
Elise Deschaine (17), LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Portland, OR
Elise Deschaine takes advantage of every opportunity presented to her. Coming from a lower-income family, Elise has been more limited in tournaments she can compete in; however, she showed her skill at the SALLY and First Tee PURE Insurance Championship.
“Elise is a very determined and passionate individual,” said Justin Ratte, Site Director at LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Portland, OR. “Stemming from her Native American roots, Elise has shown the grit and grind to make improvements to all elements of her golf game. She handles adversity with a very mature approach for her age and has overcome a lot to be playing at the level she is.”
Elise Deschaine first touched a golf club when she was nine years old. She now aspires to compete at the highest level of collegiate golf. As a part of her preparation, she began running cross country to improve her endurance and build the stamina required for long days on the golf course.
“More than 8 years later, golf, and more specifically Girls Golf, has been such a large part of her life,” Ratte said in his nomination letter. “Elise volunteers as a coach for the same class she started with those 8 years ago and is such a joy to watch coach and mentor younger girls in the program. Her commitment to the program, as well as The First Tee, is admirable. Elise is the most reliable and enthusiastic junior coach we have at the chapter, and I feel very fortunate to have her as a mentor to the younger participants in the program.
“Elise represents Girls Golf and The First Tee at fundraisers, public speaking events, and does the occasional news piece. Her philanthropic drive is very encouraging to observe. Elise is an exceptional student as well. Her commitment to academics mirrors her commitment to the game of golf: unwavering and determined. I have no doubts that Elise will leave a lasting mark on this chapter and will continue to be involved.”
Jenni Roller (16), LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Tulsa, OK
Jenni Roller has competed at high levels in golf, including AJGA events for the last four years where she earned a runner-up finish and two top tens. For the past three years, she has qualified and competed in the Girls Junior PGA Championship. She has also played on the local OJGT and PGA tours, winning numerous times, and competed in the Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championship last December.
“Jenni is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever taught,” said Maggie Roller, Site Director at LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Tulsa, OK. “She spends about 5-6 hours practicing each day along with playing 9-18 holes 4-5 times a week. Jenni invites other girls to practice with her as well, teaching them her drills on putting and short game.”
As one of the oldest and most advanced members in her Girls Golf program, Jenni continuously volunteers and helps mentor younger golfers. Additionally, Jenni raises money for Global Golf Christian ministry through AJGA Leadership Links and helps to run the Gateway AJGA event at her local course. Off the course, she is a member of the Regent Preparatory School Beta Club and ran her own event with the 2019 Chiari Walk in Owasso.
“Jenni is very mature on the golf course,” added Maggie Roller. “You can never tell if she’s scoring poorly or great, she smiles all the time regardless and keeps her self-control on stage constantly. She’s a joy to watch compete and it’s an attribute coaches recruiting her now admire.”