The Junior Golf Association of Arizona (JGAA) has been hosting the Itty Bitty Open for boys 3-5 years and girls 3-4 years. The event is always held near the start of the Phoenix Open, where professional golfers from around the world flock to Phoenix/ Scottsdale to participate in the “Greatest Show on Turf.” This year the Itty Bitty was held Jan. 15.
According to Scott McNevin, executive director of JGAA, nearly 1,000 kids participated. The best part about the event is that it tweaks the interest of the participants who can later become active junior golfers with the JGAA.
At the free event, each golfer receives a set of plastic golf clubs, balls, bag and visor – which they immediately put to good use, swinging away under the guidance of qualified PGA and LPGA professionals. The JGAA and the Itty Bitty are aided annually by The Thunderbirds who provide much needed financial support throughout the year to host junior golf events.
How did this “itty bitty” thing, get started? There was a young lady by the name of Sue Schindler, who, at the time, was employed with the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department at Maryvale Park. Schindler had a passion for little people, golf and dogs. She and many of her co-workers created special programs for little tykes because at that time the focus was on school-aged children. Shindler was a staunch supporter of little kid’s programs. She came up with the idea of hosting an Itty Bitty Open at Maryvale Park in 1988. Shindler hosted the first event; because of its popularity, requests were made to have more IBOs at other sites in the city by the citizens.