Elite Louise Suggs Junior Girls Invitational to debut this fall

Athena Yoo, here competing in the 2023 Georgia Women's Amateur, was medalist in the Class 7A tournament and helped Lambert win the state title. She is the sort of elite player the new Louise Suggs Junior Girls Invitational is expected to draw.

Credit: Kate Awtrey

Credit: Kate Awtrey

Athena Yoo, here competing in the 2023 Georgia Women's Amateur, was medalist in the Class 7A tournament and helped Lambert win the state title. She is the sort of elite player the new Louise Suggs Junior Girls Invitational is expected to draw.

The Louise Suggs Junior Girls Invitational, an elite-level tournament for the region’s top girls, will make its debut this fall in Carrollton.

The event will be held Nov. 8-10 at Sunset Hills Country Club, where Suggs – one of the founders of the LPGA and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame -- spent many of her formative years and where her father, Johnny Suggs, was the first professional.

The field will be limited to 42 players, from the ninth through 12th grades, who will compete over 36 holes. The winner will receive an exemption into the Southeast Atlantic Women’s Amateur (best known as the SALLY), the National High School Golf Association’s Girls National Championship and the LPGA Girls National Championship.

“There are plenty of elite invitationals for boys, but we felt this was something lacking for the females,” said Kurt Hitzeman, the former Carrollton High School golf coach and a guiding influence for the event. “This is going to be first class. We’re going to treat them to an experience they wouldn’t normally get in a typical junior tournament.”

The event was inspired by the memory of Wayne Edison, a former college golfer who worked as a PGA TOUR caddie for the likes of Bruce Devlin, Mac McLendon and Tommy Aaron. Before his death, Edison, who worked at the course, set aside money to be used for junior golf.

“We felt like we had to do something of this magnitude,” Sunset Hills PGA professional Justin Japour said. “We felt this was the platform to bring an event with more meaning than just a regular event.”

Planning began in 2022. Sunset Hills members have been actively supporting the event and the club’s committee is chaired by Steve Davis and Mandy Jackson. Nationally known instructor and Columbus State golf coach Mark Immelman is on board as an advisor. Melisssa Luellen, the head women’s golf coach at Auburn, has already signed on to be the speaker at the banquet. The Suggs Invitational is sponsored by the LPGA Foundation and TaylorMade.

Sunset Hills has a long association with women’s golf. Thanks to Suggs’ influence, it hosted the LPGA Carrollton Open from 1950-55 and drew iconic names like Patty Berg and Babe Zaharias. For years it has hosted events sanctioned by the Georgia State Golf Association.

“We have a history of women’s golf and it made sense to continue that tradition,” Japour said. “And this course sets up perfectly for a tournament of this magnitude.”

In order to be considered, players must submit an application and a resume. Applications will be accepted on March 1, with the field selected on May 15. The tournament is expected to draw the top players throughout the Southeast. Applications are available at SuggsInvitational.com.

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