Duke junior Phoebe Brinker is starting to realize the importance of mental health during COVID. Like all of us who struggled at some point during the pandemic, she has seen friends and relatives face countless challenges and heard so many tragic stories of college students ending their lives too soon. She even experienced low moments of failure and tremendous pressure, herself.
With the help of her friend and fellow Florida golfer, Taylor Roberts, the two host the American Golf Association’s (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 promote awareness about mental health for young people, while creating a peer-to-peer network where no one feels alone. The goal is to raise $100,000 for the Next Generation Project and AJGA Scholarship Program for Competitive Excellence (ACE). Each player agreed to raise at least $1,000 for the Generation Next Project and the ACE Scholarship Program. As of the publication of this article, the group has already raised $91,332.
The Next Generation Project, founded by Robert Jones Black, great-grandson of Bobby Jones, seeks to make a positive impact on the mental health of young people and equip teens, families, and coaches with the tools for mental fitness and communication skills to thrive in today’s world through the game of golf. AJGA’s ACE Grant provides financial assistance to young men and women looking to obtain a college golf scholarship through a junior golf competition.
“It’s crazy to see how it all came together,” Roberts said. “It’s amazing to see how many people support her and the more I talk about mental health and share my own story, the more people want to support her. It’s just something that is really pervasive in our lives.”
Roberts had already come up with the idea while undergoing treatment, so she passed her thoughts on to her boyfriend Brinker, and the two got down to business.
“After the treatment, I wanted to help other athletes or anyone in general gain resources because I realized how lucky I was to have the opportunity to improve myself,” Roberts explained.
Taylor Roberts at Golfweek Myrtle Beach Collegiate. (Photo: James Maggio)
Twenty-two players will compete in the tournament, including fellow Brinker Blue Devils, Megan Fortney and Riley Heflin. The fun begins on Monday, July 25, when golfers will play Bobby Jones Golf Club. On Tuesday, the Mental Health Walk will follow the tee times at East Lake Golf Club.
“The pandemic and stress that comes with being a student-athlete is daunting and can seem unbearable at times, especially when there are no mental health conversations among peers,” Brinker said. “That’s why Taylor and I decided to host the Impact Cup to support mental health, specifically the Next Generation project that uses golf to facilitate conversations related to mental health and to create life lessons that golf teaches us about emotional awareness and patience, among other virtues.”
This isn’t the first time Brinker and Roberts have teamed up with an event to make a difference through their love of golf. Back in 2020, with AJGA’s help, the pair hosted the Senior High School Golfers’ Cup whose senior seasons had been cut short due to COVID-19 and raised $40,000 for the Emergency Golf Relief Fund and AJGA’s ACE Scholarship.
“I hope that bringing golfers who have faced similar circumstances and struggles together will help start the necessary conversation related to mental health, and that we can collectively raise an ambitious $100,000 for Generation Next to impact the mental health of young people through golf,” Brinker said. . “The event will be a fun way to facilitate activities and guest speakers to share stories and give tips on how to deal with mental instability and play the amazing East Lake Golf Club with friends who play group golf across the country.”
Roberts added, “Our main mission is that when everyone leaves, they have the resources to love to go back to their lives and understand themselves on a different level.”
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