By Roseanna Smith, (@AJGASmith) AJGA Communications
The light comes on in Whitney Young’s eyes when she’s asked to do an interview.
As an assistant coach at the University of Georgia, she’s more behind-the-scenes than behind-the-microphone these days, but that wasn’t always the case.
“We joke I was the player Whitney Wade and the coach Whitney Young,” said Young, who is one of the most decorated players in the history of the Bulldogs women’s golf program.
Young was a three-time college All-American and four-time All-SEC player, and helped Georgia win 10 team tournament titles including the 2007 SEC Championship. She accepted a Georgia coaching position in 2013 and this week, she’s recruiting alongside the 15 other college coaches on-site this week at the Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF.
Still, it wasn’t that long ago she walked AJGA fairways as a top junior golfer herself.
“I have so many fond memories of the AJGA,” said Young, a five-time Rolex Junior All-American. “So many of the girls I played with are now on the LPGA – Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel. We played on a few Canon (now Wyndham) Cups and PING Junior Solheim Cup teams together, but it was very much friendship and competitiveness. As much as we liked each other, we wanted to beat each other.”
During her decorated AJGA career, Young won eight AJGA events and posted eight additional top-10 national junior golf finishes. The Glasgow, Kentucky, native made national news after she played in the 1994 Kentucky State Championships as a fourth-grader, and she became the youngest winner of the Kentucky Amateur (13) in 1998. She had a prosperous high school career, including four state championships.
Chief Operating Officer Mark Oskarson remembers Young as a fiercely-competitive, charismatic player, but can’t forget her penchant for fun especially on display during the 2002 PING Junior Solheim Cup.
“All the girls wanted to do was have a dance party during the week. Whitney and Morgan Pressel were the ringleaders. We got them a boombox and the European and American players had their dance party at the hotel.”
On the golf course, Young won back-to-back titles (2002, 2003) at the NRP Bluegrass Junior in Ashland, Kentucky, which is separated by just 250 miles from her similarly-sized hometown. Through the years, she’s kept in touch with her host family and when she comes back on recruiting trips, the community receives her with fondness.
As a coach, Young says today’s golf scores are lower, but that the intangibles remain for junior golf’s best.
“I remember competing with Brittany Lincicome coming down the stretch in Ashland. We were down to the wire and we got in trouble from our moms for talking down on the last few holes, but that was us. As you get older, you realize the importance of the things you learned during your AJGA days. We all learned so much – meeting sponsors, writing thank yous, playing in Junior-Ams and competing.”