Briarwood’s Hayden receives AJGA Presidents’ Award
BY DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer
NORTH SHELBY — Not all awards measure performance on the field.
Some, like the United States Golf Association-American Junior Golfer’s Association’s Presidents Leadership Award, measure an athlete’s achievements and attitude both on the course and off. So when the AJGA announced Briarwood golfer John Hayden was the 2014 recipient of the award, BCS head golf coach Jim Brown showed little surprise.
“I don’t believe there’s anyone more deserving than John,” Brown said.
The USGA-AJGA wrote in a release that the award — which was first given out in 2006 — as being “created to recognize one male and one female junior golfer who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program – a joint initiative founded by the USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.”
Hayden said he was humbled by the award.
“It was an honor,” he said. “I didn’t do the foundation for the award, but it’s (nice).”
Hayden’s work with the Bradley Johnson Foundation that led to his nomination and subsequent reception of the award. The foundation, named for late Spain Park golfer Bradley Johnson, provides underprivileged junior golfers opportunities and financial backing to play in tournaments. Hayden secures pledges for the foundation for each birdie he makes in tournament play, and has raised more than $20,000 since 2012.
Brown said Hayden’s character came to the forefront on the BCS squad.
“Not all great players work hard, and not all hard workers (are great players). John’s a unique blend of tremendous athletic ability and work ethic. We don’t have anyone who works harder. He’s got a work ethic that becomes infectious. “
Hayden said his outlook on the sport was about keeping perspective.
“I look at it as golf is more a privilege to play,” he said. “You can be disappointed, but (there’s) no reason to get upset. I haven’t always been that way. I had to learn (a) score doesn’t define me. I’m more worried about character than winning.”
Hayden said he was still trying to process winning the award.
“I’m still kind of shocked,” he said. “I want people to see me as a good golfer and of good character. It’s definitely an honor.”
Hayden will be honored on June 25 in Nashville, and will receive tickets for a future U.S. Open tournament and automatic entry into the 2014 Rolex Tournament of Champions junior golf tournament.