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Remembering Nick Bramlett

“Generous.” This word, more than any other, was used by the people closest to Nick Bramlett when they described him. The longtime TGA Volunteer and Rules of Golf expert passed away on April 27. He was 81 years old.

Known as “PoPo” to his family and closest friends, Bramlett loved being outdoors. He was an avid bird hunter, but especially enjoyed hunting white-tailed deer on his West Texas deer lease near Sonora.

Another of Bramlett’s loves was the game of golf. Volunteering and mentoring were in his blood. He was named the Legends Junior Tour’s Volunteer of the Year in 2013 and was also the recipient of the TGA’s South Texas Volunteer of the Year award in 2016.

“He was very generous with his time, particularly in the support of amateur golf,” said A.J. Cortez, a TGA Volunteer and close friend of Bramlett. “In the last 10 years, I don’t know of anyone who volunteered more for the TGA, USGA, LJT and the Houston Golf Association. Additionally, he was extremely generous with his skills and knowledge and served as an important mentor to many of the new volunteers starting their path to becoming a certified Rules Official.”

Bramlett was passionate about all things golf – it was what originally led him to becoming a Rules Official. He loved spending time on the course playing golf, but he was equally passionate about giving back to the game that meant so much to him. Bramlett was a dedicated servant of the game and from 2010-19 he spent nearly 250 days volunteering at TGA events. And that’s not counting the days he spent helping other associations during that time.

“He loved the sport. He loved being a Rules Official no matter what event he was working, whether it was for the STPGA, NCAA or lending a hand at a local qualifier,” said TGA Volunteer Bobby Grabstaldt. “He just loved being a team player. There was no one in the TGA that was more generous with their time and willing to help and be a part of a team than Nick was.”

Bramlett’s peers spoke just as highly about who he was outside of golf.

“He was just a really kind, thoughtful person,” Grabstaldt said. “He was always there for everybody and was a true friend to all.”

“Nick was one of those lucky people who never met a stranger,” Cortez said. “Nick was well known to all the people we dealt with from the players and parents to the caddies and volunteers. Nick was never without a story and he relished telling them to anyone and everyone who would listen.”

Bramlett also had a deep impact on the TGA staff.

“I worked a number of events with Nick over the years, and I always looked forward to seeing him,” said Mark Button, the TGA’s Senior Director of Communications. “He was always so welcoming, nice and genuinely interested in helping people. I was really sad to hear of his passing.”

The TGA sends its deepest condolences to Nick Bramlett’s family and friends. Instead of sending flowers, his family asked that you might consider making a donation to the TGA on Nick’s behalf. He would’ve liked that very much.

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LJT Strength on Display at U.S. Women’s Four-Ball

Local standouts and current Legends Junior Tour players Alexa Saldana and Savannah Barber defeated Jillian Bourdage and Casey Weidenfeld, 5 and 4, in the championship match to win the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton.  

The 17-year-olds defied odds all week. They each came into the event ranked in the 1500s of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking®. Prior to match play they each had to prevail through two rounds of stroke play. At the end of stroke play the duo entered the match play portion of the championship as the 26th seed.  

But for Saldana and Barber this victory did not come as a surprise. “We’ve been preparing for this for a few weeks,” said Saldana, “and we [thought we] had a good chance of winning.” 

The pair had to win five matches to be crowned champion. Through their first three matches they never reached the 16th hole. A dominating stretch of golf for the roommates at Crown Golf Academy in Arlington. 

In their semifinal match Saldana and Barber were taken to 20 holes by the youngest team in the field, Gianna Clemente and Avery Zweig, but eventually prevailed. 

In the final match Saldana rolled in a long birdie putt on the 14th hole to capture the title over Bourdage and Weidenfeld. The birdie marked the third consecutive hole won by Saldana and Barber. 

The girls are also current standouts on the Legends Junior Tour with prior experience in match play.  

“The tour prides itself on giving fair tests to players and helping them grow for the next level,” said Kevin Porter, LJT Tournament Director. “Alexa and Savannah have experience in match play, which is key at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.” 

The two have notable finishes on the LJT recently. Saldana finished third at the 2020 George Hannon Junior Invitational, while Barber finished sixth. Barber finished runner-up at both the 2019 Texas Junior Amateur and at the 2020 Girls Match Play Championship (beating Saldana in the semifinals). 

Saldana and Barber are the latest in a long line of Legends Junior Tour players past and present to make history on the national scene recently.  

For the third time in six years, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball championship final featured LJT alumni. In 2016, Hailee Cooper of Montgomery and Kaitlyn Papp of Austin won the national title at Streamsong Resort in the second year of the event. 

Cole Hammer recently won individual medalist honors at the Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship held April 26-28 at Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kan. and Will Zalatoris finished runner-up at the 2021 Masters earlier in the month.  

Pierceson Coody, the 2015 Legends Junior Tour Player of the Year, currently sits as the top ranked amateur golfer in the world.  

Just as the above-mentioned current and former LJT players have proven their mettle in the national spotlight, so too has Maridoe. 

This was the first time the TGA Member Club played host to a USGA event, but it has been a haven for elite amateur championships since it opened for play in 2017.  

Among much else, Maridoe has previously hosted the 2017 Texas Shootout (won by the North Team), the 2018 Texas Four-Ball (won by Jace Moore and Jordan Woolf), the 2019 Trans-Miss Championship (won by Pierceson Coody) and the 2019 Texas Mid-Amateur (won by Christopher Wheeler).  

“Maridoe has been a great partner of the Texas Golf Association ever since the club opened its doors,” said Kellen Kubasak, TGA’s Director of Competitions. “The membership and staff have always been very welcoming and accommodating to the TGA. The golf course, typically the star of the show, always demands the very best out of the players, where great shots will get rewarded and decent or bad shots will most likely end up in difficult positions.”  

In just a few short years, the Steve Smyers-designed course has earned a reputation as a comprehensive test of a player’s shot-making and course management skills. The list of winners at Maridoe proves only those in total command of their game will come out on top. Saldana and Barber showed this to be true during their title march in the 6th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.

Maridoe earned high praise as host of this year’s championship, which included the best women amateur golfers from 32 states and seven countries.

“It’s the beginning of a wonderful relationship with the USGA,” said Marc Wielgosz, Director of Golf at Maridoe. “We hope it continues to grow and flourish as the years move on.” 

“Maridoe was a great partner, and we’re thrilled to have staged a successful first championship of 2021. As with all our host venues, we will speak with club leadership and have discussions around what a USGA championship future looks like once we let the dust settle from this one,” said Mark Hill, the USGA’S Managing Director, Championships.  

The club’s leadership and staff might take a moment to savor the moment of hosting their first USGA championship, but they’ll be right back at it, planning and preparing for the next big event, which hopefully will be in the not too distant future.

 For more information on the 6th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, click here. 

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VOA Classic Partnership Offers LPGA Exemption for Texas Juniors

The Legends Junior Tour, in collaboration with the Northern Texas PGA Junior Tour, is again partnering with the Volunteers of America Classic – the only LPGA Tour event in the state of Texas – to offer young female golfers the opportunity to earn an exemption into the LPGA Tour event annually conducted at Golf Clubs at The Tribute in The Colony, TX.

Through a series of tournaments conducted by the Legends Junior Tour, the Northern Texas PGA Junior Tour, and the Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour, girls throughout the state of Texas will have the opportunity to qualify for the Volunteers of America Classic Girls Championship on June 21-23 at Golf Clubs at The Tribute. This 54-hole individual stroke play championship will feature a starting field of 144 female junior golfers, and will be cut to the top 30 and ties after 36-holes. The first and second round will be contested on the Tribute Golf Links, and the Final Round will be contested at Old American Golf Club – the same site as the annual LPGA Tour stop. The winner of this year’s Volunteers America Classic Girls Championship will have secured her spot to tee it up alongside LPGA Tour stars at the Volunteers of America Classic on July 1-4.

The Legends Tour will have 35 qualifying spots into the Volunteer of America Classic Girls Championship. Qualifying spots will be awarded based on performance in Legends Junior Tour championships and Player of the Year Standings.

“It’s been such an honor to watch our junior tour alumni succeed on the LPGA Tour over the years, and it’s tremendously exciting to be a part of giving our players an opportunity to compete with the world’s best,” said Stacy Dennis, Executive Director of the Texas Golf Association.

For the team at the Volunteers of America Classic, the opportunity to help inspire the next generation of LPGA Tour players and expand its community outreach was something that fit right into the tournament’s mission.

“A focus of the Volunteers of America Classic is to grow the game and inspire the next generation of golfers in Texas,” said Tournament Director, Emily Podzielinski. “This partnership allows us to achieve our goals and create champions right here in our backyard.”

For more information about the VOA Classic, click here.