Duke junior Phoebe Brinker started realizing the importance of mental health during COVID. Like all of us who struggled at some point during the pandemic, she saw friends and relatives face countless challenges and heard too many tragic stories of college students taking their lives too soon. She even faced low moments of failure and overwhelming stress, herself.
With the help of her friend and fellow collegiate golfer at Florida, Taylor Roberts, the two are hosting the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Impact Cup, July 25-26, at the Bobby Jones Golf Club and East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The Impact Cup aims to educate, support and foster awareness around youth mental health, while establishing a peer-to-peer network where no one feels alone. The goal is to raise $100,000 for the Generation Next Project and the AJGA’s Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant Program. Each player has agreed to raise at least $1,000 for Generation Next Project and the ACE Grant Program. As of the posting of this article, the group has already raised $91,332.
Founded by Robert Jones Black, the great grandson of Bobby Jones, the Generation Next Project strives to make a positive impact on youth mental health and provide teens, families and coaches mental fitness tools and communication skills to thrive in today’s world through the game of golf. The AJGA’s ACE Grant provides financial assistance to young men and women who aspire to earn a college golf scholarship through competitive junior golf.
“It’s crazy to see how everything has come together,” said Roberts. “It’s amazing to see how many people are supporting it and the more you talk about mental health and sharing my own story, the more people that want to support it. It’s just something that it’s really prevalent in our lives.”
Roberts actually had the idea while she was going through therapy, so she took her thoughts to her buddy Brinker, and the two got to work.
“After therapy, I wanted to help other athletes or just anyone in general gain resources because I realized how lucky I was to have the opportunity to better myself,” explained Roberts.
Taylor Roberts at the Golfweek Myrtle Beach Collegiate. (Photo: James Maggio)
Twenty-two players will compete in the tournament, including Brinker’s Blue Devil teammates, Megan Furtney and Rylie Heflin. The fun begins Monday, July 25, as golfers will play Bobby Jones Golf Club. On Tuesday, a mental health walk will be followed by tee times at East Lake Golf Club.
“The pandemic and the stress that comes with being a student-athlete is daunting and can seem unbearable at times, especially when there are no conversations being had surrounding mental health among peers,” said Brinker. “That is why Taylor and I decided to host the Impact Cup in support of mental health, specifically Generation Next Project which utilizes the game of golf to facilitate conversations surrounding mental health and to establish the life lessons that golf teaches us about emotional awareness, patience, among other virtues.”
This isn’t the first time Brinker and Roberts have tag-teamed an event to make a difference through their love of golf. Back in 2020, once again with the assistance of the AJGA, the pair hosted the Senior Cup for high school golfers whose senior seasons were cut short due to COVID-19 and raised $40,000 for the Emergency Golf Relief Fund and the AJGA’s ACE Grant.
“I hope that bringing together collegiate golfers who have faced similar circumstances and struggles can start the necessary conversation surrounding mental health, and that we can collectively raise an ambitious $100,000 for Generation Next to impact youth mental health through the game of golf,” said Brinker. “The event will be a fun way to facilitate activities and guest speakers to share stories, provide tips for how to cope with mental instability, and play the amazing East Lake Golf Club with friends who play collegiate golf around the country.”
“Our main mission,” added Roberts, “is that when everyone leaves, they have resources to like go back into their lives and understand themselves at a different level.”
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