From PGA Junior League to PGA Club Champion
By Kris Hart
Maturity from experience.
At 16 years old, CJ Merritt is the 2nd youngest player competing in the PGA’s National Club Championship this weekend in Palm Springs, but his maturity and golf game are ready to make a championship run.
CJ will be representing Cold Spring Country Club in Cold Spring Harbor, NY and supported by his PGA Members Jim Weiss and Jane Sirmons from the Metropolitan PGA Section. CJ played in the Cold Spring CC Club Championship for the first time this past summer and tied the record for the youngest club champion at 16
Who’s record did he tie? PGA Professional Jim Weiss who won the Cold Spring Club Championship at 16 years old 40 years earlier.
Jim said this past summer he saw CJ’s game get to a different level and encouraged him to play in the club championship. Although Jim and CJ do not work together in a formal swing coaching relationship, Jim played golf at the University of Virginia and coached 4 years Division 1 at Florida Atlantic University and they work together on the college recruiting process and acts as a mentor to CJ.
Jim said, “One of the amazing parts about CJ and my journey are the similarities of our paths. I can relate to him personally as I was just like him. I, like CJ, started playing as a junior around 8 or 9 but as did I CJ really took to the game and started playing seriously when he was about 13 or so.” CJ said, “Jim has always been a figure I've looked up to my whole golfing journey and someone I emulate to be one day as a golfer and a gentleman.”
CJ identified as a hockey player first, but since he started playing in PGA Junior League at 13 years old and working with his PGA Coach Jane Sirmons, his game was taken to a new level.
CJ said, “I won MVP both years I was a part of the team and last summer I had the privilege to be an assistant and helped coach the kids representing the Cold Spring Junior league. It's really cool to look back to know I started golf representing Cold Spring's Junior League and a few years later being awarded the honor of Club Champion is definitely a testament of all the hard work and effort I've put in the last few years to achieve my goals.”
PGA Junior League and the coaches who run the team inspire 60,000+ young boys and girls into golf. CJ is an inspiration for all current and past PGA Junior League players that with hard work and dedication, you can become a club champion and represent your club in a National Championship event.
PGA coaches come in all forms and are the leaders in golf who help amateurs become champions. Having PGA Members Jane and Jim by his side as well as programs like PGA Junior League and the PGA National Club Championship to help CJ achieve success are what make our game so great.
Jim said, “To have CJ represent our club in the National Championship is one of the highlights of my term as Director of Golf.” We wish CJ the best of luck this weekend in Palm Springs and maybe one day he can be a PGA coach who inspires the next generation of Junior League players and club champions."