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The Business Behind AAU and Junior Golf
An inside look at the BIG business of youth sports
The Money Behind Junior Golf
During Tiger Woods’ Hall of Fame speech, he discussed the sacrifices his parents made during his junior golf career. This quote from his speech has stuck with me since.
Obviously we didn’t know that we were going to have enough money for me to go to college or be recruited. So my family made a tough decision, and at the age of 14 we took out a second mortgage so I could go out and play the AJGA Tour.
I’ve been curious about the money behind junior golf and wanted to dig into it.
There are several junior golf tours in the United States — most are local or regional golf tours run by the local PGA section. There are only a handful of nationwide junior golf tours.
American Junior Golf Association (AJGA)
Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT)
International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT)
The AJGA has been the gold standard in junior golf — it’s highly competitive and provides exposure to college coaches for recruiting.
The AJGA has 6,700 members and over 60 full-time employees. The AJGA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), meaning its financial records are public.
Below are their revenue numbers from 2015 to 2019.
Here is a quick breakdown of their 2019 Form 990.
$15.89 million in revenue
$15.52 million in expenses
$9.9 million in total assets
$5.2 million cash on hand — beginning of the year
Revenue is recognized in two main buckets for the AJGA.
Player fees — $3.99 million
Contributions, gifts, and grants — $11.77 million
Without fundraising, contributions, gifts, and grants, the AJGA would not be profitable — it makes sense they are a 501(c)(3).
The AJGA executive team is paid well — the CEO made $499,000 in 2019, and three other officers made over $250,000.
These numbers are relatively meaningless unless we have something to baseline them against — the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is a great place to start.
The Business of AAU
AAU has over 700,000 member athletes and over 30 sports, including golf.
The AAU’s Form 990 stated revenues of $20.4 million and expenses of $20.7 million in 2019.
Their CEO made $212,000 in 2019, and four other directors made over $100,000. The AAU doesn’t rely on contributions, gifts, and grants near as much — they recognized $895,000 in 2019.
Keep in mind that the AAU is a parent organization to a group of 3,900 other AAU organizations.
Inside Look at AJGA
It is expensive to play in AJGA events.
Here are the membership costs.
Junior Plus — $285
Junior — $195
Future — $95
There are five tournament types the AJGA has — here is the cost of each tournament.
AJGA Qualifier — $105
AJGA Preview — $210
AJGA All-Star — $295
AJGA Open — $295
AJGA Invitational — $375
You are limited to five AJGA Open and All-Star events per season as a player. I want to note that the AJGA does have scholarships available.
Like PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players, travel is a varying cost depending on various factors. Let’s look at it two different ways for a three-night hotel stay.
Airfare for two — $1,000
Hotel — $600
Rental car — $300
Meals — $200
Fuel — $100
Hotel — $600
Fuel — $200
Meals — $200
These are estimations to illustrate the difference between flying versus driving.
Let’s assume a junior will play in three AJGA events in one year. Two events driving and one event flying. The estimated total is $5,370.
Tournament membership — $285
Tournament fees — $885
Airfare — $1,000
Hotel — $1,800
Rental car — $300
Meals — $600
Fuel — $500
Throw on a golf course membership, equipment, and lessons, and we could end up north of $10,000 a year to compete in junior golf.
If a golfer plays AJGA events for five years, a parent could shell out $50,000 for their child to compete.
It isn’t necessary for a junior to play in AJGA events to play high-level collegiate golf. I know several former Division I golfer’s that didn’t compete on the AJGA and had successful careers.
Conversely, I know a handful of juniors that played well in AJGA events and didn’t have as successful collegiate careers as they would’ve liked.
Thanks to Jared Doerfler for the great post today! Make sure to check out his work here.
I’ll see you on Sunday for the weekly roundup.
Have an awesome weekend.
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