Hot Springs Country Club General Manager Barry Howard qualified for the PGA Junior Championships 43 years ago, and now he will compete in the event again when the PGA Junior Championships are played on the Arlington and Park courses in 2023.
The PGA of America announced Tuesday that the 47th edition of the event will be played August 1-4 next year at the Hot Springs Country Club. The boys’ and girls’ championships will be played at the same time, with 312 players with 156 on each side.
“Kind of a full circle for me,” Howard said. “1979, I qualified for this tournament and played there. It’s pretty cool to be able to organize it after playing something many years ago. So it’s pretty cool.”
Howard thanked the Hot Springs Country Club team for keeping the courses in top condition and making the Country Club a place that could host an event like the PGA Junior Championships.
“It’s just a great honor to have a good enough reputation for golf courses to be chosen to host such a prestigious event,” Howard said. “The same people who run this have hosted two other tournaments that we have hosted at this club in the past. … They were so impressed with the facilities that they came to us to host this Junior PGA Championship.”
Players like Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Justin Tomas, Inbee Park, Yuka Saso and Lexi Thompson have competed in the Junior PGA Championships. The event can boost a young golfer’s career.
“You’ve heard of majors in professional golf,” Howard said. “You have the Masters, the PGA Championship, the British Open and the US Open. It’s kind of like a major junior. It’s been going on ever since – it’ll be the 47th year. It’s just very prestigious because of that. It’s run by the PGA of America who also run the PGA Championship. Very similar in prestige based on it being run by that organization.”
While the PGA Junior Championships will bring in significant staff to help prepare and run the event, Howard said the Country Club team – including golf course staff and catering and drinks – will always be in high demand during the competition.
He added that the Country Club is used to hosting golf tournaments, but the PGA Junior Championships bring a new challenge in the form of volunteer recruitment.
“We host events all the time,” Howard said. “We are very lucky to have great staff and great members who support events like this. The most important thing will be the volunteers. We are going to need 200-300 volunteers. We are going to have to start now to getting those volunteers. For me, that’s going to be the biggest thing in the tournament.”
Howard speculated that an average of two family members would travel with each player to Hot Springs next summer for the event. He highlighted the impact the influx of people could have on local businesses and the spa town’s economy.
“I’m just proud to be able to bring something like this to Hot Springs,” Howard said. “I love Hot Springs and want to help out as best I can. I’m really proud to bring something like this and proud of our board for making it happen.”