It isn't everyday that one gets a telephone call from the President of the Executive Board of the United States Golf Association.
For a 14-year-old to receive one, probably just short of never.
This week young Zach Herr received a phone call that, at first, he thought was some sort of a crank call. "It was the USGA President (James Vernon), and once I realized it was really him I was extremely surprised.
Vernon was calling to notify the Washington Crossing 14-year-old that he and Lafayette Hill's Emily Gimpel were named the 2009 Presidents' Youth Leadership Award recipients. The annual award, bestowed by the USGA and the American Junior Golf Association, was created to recognize one boy and one girl nationally who have demonstrated leadership, character and community service.
The USGA and AJGA formulated the combined award in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism. And that's precisely what Herr and Gimple have done.
The two youths will be honored and presented their award at the Rolex Dinner of Champions, slated for July 3 in Cape Girardeau, Mo., where the Rolex Tournament of Champions will be contested.
Herr and Gimpel have similar stories. Both have family members who've suffered from cancer, and each started golf tournaments that forwarded proceeds to benefit cancer research.
About 18 months ago Herr decided he wanted to raise funds for cancer research after his mother Cyndie was diagnosed with colon cancer. He used money earned from cutting lawns as a down payment for the use of Jericho National Golf Club --- his home course --- for a one-day tournament.
He contacted numerous organizations and celebrities for silent auction donations, receiving a positive response. In the end the Zach Attacks Cancer Foundation generated $60,000 in proceeds which were presented to the Fox Chase Cancer Center.
"It was a lofty goal we set, but why not shoot for a tough goal," said Herr, who captured the Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior-Junior Championship last summer and was named June, 2008, Player of the Month by www.golfbuckscounty.com. "It too a lot of work from a lot of volunteers, but we did it. Everyone I asked helped out, it was a team effort."
Herr is looking forward to the end of the school year when he can concentrate more of his time in playing the game he loves. He's filed an entry form for the USGA Junior Amateur, and will attempt to qualify for the Pennsylvania Amateur and Pennsylvania Open. He's also slated to play in several AJGA events.
Herr and Gimpel also received exemptions into the prestigious Rolex Tournament of Champions. Both will also receive tickets to the U.S. Open and entry to the USGA Hospitality Tent.
Herr has played in several tournaments during school breaks this year, posting top-10 efforts. He also played for the Jericho National entry in the GAP Team Matches.
Of course, there is also the second annual Zach Attacks Cancer Tournament, slated for Jericho National on June 8. For tournament information, contact Herr at http://www.zachattackscancer.com/.
"Last year was overwhelming, a wonderful success," said Herr. "I don't know what we can do to top it."
For that matter, it will be hard to top a phone call from the USGA President.