The Insider September 2014 - Page 44

Backspin AJGA alum Shirley find success at the next level By Jared Dunn For Margaret Shirley, things have a way of coming full circle. After a narrow defeat at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship in extra holes, Shirley returned to the final in 2014 in a rematch against defending champion Julia Potter. Shirley sealed her fate without extra holes, winning 5 and 3. But winning a USGA Championship doesn’t happen overnight. It requires persistence, a lesson she learned early on as an AJGA golfer. In her first tournament, the 1999 Junior All-Star Classic at Magnolia Grove, she shot consecutive rounds of 105 and 90. “It taught me to never give up,” Shirley said. “When you get knocked down you just have to get back up and give it another go. Golf will do that to you. You lose a lot more in golf than you win, but you have to keep on keeping on.” As Shirley competed in more AJGA events, she learned how to play like a champion. “The AJGA is the PGA and LPGA Tour of junior golf,” she said. “It provided the best fields on some of the best golf courses, making for unbelievable competition. It gave me the confidence knowing I could compete against the best players.” 44 American Junior Golf Association After her junior career with the AJGA, Shirley competed for Auburn University from 2004-08, helping the Tigers win back-to-back SEC Championships. In 2011, she returned as an assistant coach for two seasons with the Tigers, becoming part of a third SEC Championship title for Auburn. Shirley’s experiences at AJGA competitions also inspired her to pursue golf administration. She is now the Manager of Rules and Competitions for Atlanta Junior Golf, where she first started playing golf. “I remember always thinking how much fun it would be to be a staff member,” she said. “I know they always worked hard, but they were always having fun and enjoying what they did. I always thought I might end up in tournament administration one day.” Shirley set goals for herself that may have once seemed insurmountable, but she never took her eyes off the prize. “I had a dream of playing college golf and I was able to make that a reality, thanks to the AJGA,” she said. “Now, I am 28 years old and my dream of being a USGA Champion just came true. To all the juniors playing today, don’t give up.”