Since its establishment in 1997, the IJGF’s annual funding has gone from $5,000 to this year’s gross total of $151,000. All of the funds come from a single-night auction held each April.
PGA Tour pro Graham DeLaet, a Canadian who attended Boise State and still lives in Idaho’s largest city, has become the auction’s title sponsor, donating $5,000 from his foundation.
IJGF president Joe Panzeri, a 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur quarterfinalist who twice won on PGA Tour Canada before regaining his amateur status last year, has procured memorabilia items that include a signed Phil Mickelson flag from his 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship victory.
USGA Executive Committee member Steven Beebe, who grew up in Idaho and went to law school at the University of Idaho, donated two weekly passes to the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, including a five-night stay at an area hotel. There are fly-fishing trips and stays at golf resorts such as Coeur d’Alene Resort in northern Idaho and Silvies Valley Ranch in eastern Oregon. A local coffee shop provides one free cup a day for a year. Malay donates his hand-crafted bird houses and his famous caramel-flavored popcorn (he won’t divulge the recipe), which are popular with bidders.
“You say ‘kids’ and people open up [their wallets to donate],” said Malay.
Ben Bryson, the director of golf at BanBury Golf Course in Boise, site of the 2005 U.S. Girls’ Junior and the only Idaho facility to have hosted a USGA championship, is currently the board’s vice president and will serve as president next year.
Because of the auction’s success, initiatives have expanded beyond the Hayes scholarship. In 2019, every junior golfer will save $10 on their membership fees to the Idaho Junior Tour. Other funds are earmarked for “Youth on Course,” a national initiative that enables juniors to play designated courses for $5, and the purchase of golf clubs for those who can’t afford them. Another $5,000 is earmarked each of the next two years to defray costs for the 2020 Girls Americas Cup that Idaho is hosting.
“Ben and Joe really have thought outside the box,” said Adam McCormick, the executive director of the Idaho Golf Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019. “Ten dollars might not sound like a lot of money, but that’s a lot when you are talking about helping 400-plus kids.”
Added the 71-year-old Malay: “I had a vision, but Ben [Bryson] and the board now have binoculars. They are looking long range.”
But it’s the scholarship that generates the most emotion. Doug Hayes personally calls each winner, and whether the recipient receives $500 or $10,000, tears flow on both ends of the phone.
“It’s very important to me [to call], even more than having it in Cody’s name,” said Hayes, who also has four daughters. “I’ve had conversations with mothers who have cried. It has allowed their kid to go to college instead of having to work [while in school]. It’s made a difference in kids’ lives.”
It all started as a small request to assist junior golf. Malay, whom Hayes calls a national treasure for his eclectic golf attire and passion for the game, grew up in rural Weiser, Idaho, as a “junior caddie who couldn’t afford to [play] golf.”
Once Malay started playing, he became addicted. A member of the Golf Nuts Society, Malay once entered 53 tournaments in a calendar year. He has won 22 state championships, recorded 18 holes-in-one and qualified for nine USGA championships. When he isn’t playing in Idaho events, Malay is a fixture as a volunteer.
“He has been the driving force behind junior golf,” said Doug Hayes. “Joe is a personality and he takes it pretty seriously.”
Bryson and Panzeri hope to expand the IJGF revenue stream, perhaps adding a golf tournament to accompany the annual auction. With more community and statewide support, the growth possibilities are endless.
“It’s a lot of fun to see junior golf expand in the state of Idaho, even since I was part of it,” said Panzeri. “The pros [in the state] do a really good job of helping the kids and honing their games.”
From above, Cody Hayes would nod his approval.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.