Five local students received scholarships from the Jacksonville Area Golf Association (JAGA) recently, bringing the total amount of scholarships awarded by the organization to more than $1 million.
Students receiving scholarships included Kelly Barrett, who plans to study at Florida Gulf Coast University; Connor Battreall (University of North Florida); Hannah Berman (University of West Florida); Sydney Legeer (University of Alabama); and Emily Root (U.S. Naval Academy.) The awards were presented July 21 at a dinner held at Queen’s Harbour Yacht & Country Club.
This year marked JAGA’s inaugural presentation of the Bill Black Award in honor of the long-time JAGA director who believed in creating a scholarship for area golfers.
“No one volunteered his time to this game like Bill,” said Jim Howard, director of golf at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. “He loved every part of it, especially working on junior events and supporting the future of golf. He set a personal example for me and stood for what JAGA is all about.”
The inaugural award was presented to Ponte Vedra resident Hannah Berman, who was sponsored by Sawgrass Country Club.
“It is an honor to be viewed by JAGA as someone who deserves this kind of recognition, and I know I speak on behalf of all of us when I say how grateful we are that they support what we do inside and outside the ropes,” Berman said. “It is truly humbling to receive this particular award because of what Mr. Black meant to the local golf community. I hope someday people will say the same kind things about me.”
Berman graduated this year from Ponte Vedra High School, where she was a two-time captain of the golf team, two-time team MVP, the St. Augustine Record County Golfer of the Year and a three-time Florida Times-Union All First Coast First Team selection. She was recognized nationally with the 2015 USGA/AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award for her community service work and played in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Berman will play her college golf at the University of West Florida, where she plans to study International Business.
“All of these kids have done incredible things on and off the course,” said Randy Nader, JAGA director and Berman’s sponsors. “Hannah truly exemplified what this game is all about – not just playing well, but giving back to the community. We know that she and all of these incredible young people will represent JAGA, Jacksonville and the game with the respect it deserves.”
In 1974 JAGA established the JAGA Charitable Trust with just a $150 contribution from the association's general fund. Since then, the scholarship fund has grown through contributions from JAGA member clubs, golf tournaments and private donations, and there have been hundreds of scholarships awarded to deserving young people totaling more than $1 million. Each year, the volunteer organization recognizes college-bound golfers who not only excelled on the course, but also made contributions to their communities and set an example that honors the game.
“This dinner is as much about the families as it is about the kids,” JAGA Director and Scholarship Fund Chair Ken Hicks said. “It takes a strong team of people, a lot of sacrifice and good examples to develop such good kids. We are equally proud of the parents in this room.”