Final preparations are underway for the first-ever Southwest Airlines Showcase at Cedar Crest, a new national amateur invitational designed to spotlight the talents of top young golfers from diverse and underrepresented groups. Hosted by the local nonprofit I AM a Golfer Foundation, the event will debut Nov. 13-15 at historic Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas and Golf Channel will be providing live television coverage.
The Southwest Airlines Showcase will feature an elite field of 21 men and 21 women, representing more than 33 colleges and universities and 20 states. In addition, four nationally ranked high school golfers also received invitations to compete in the inaugural event. The tournament format is 54 holes of stroke play, with the men’s and women’s divisions vying concurrently for their respective titles.
“The player field is shaping up to be even stronger than we originally hoped for,” said Chuck Walker, I AM a Golfer Foundation’s executive director and lead tournament ambassador, in a recent interview. “With so many top players having committed to play, the competition for the men’s and women’s crowns should be intense and fun to watch.”
One of the leading high schoolers in the starting field is North Texas resident Shyla Brown of McKinney. Brown has had a breakthrough year on the Legends Junior Tour, winning both the Spring Preview and Bluebonnet Championships and finishing runner-up in the 97th Texas Junior Amateur. She currently is second in the LJT Player of the Year Girls Rankings and 84th in the national Rolex AJGA Girls Rankings.
Joining Brown in the women’s division is Amari Smith, another McKinney standout. Smith, who is now pursuing graduate studies at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, has recorded multiple top finishes in collegiate events and is a three-time winner of the Texas Golf Association’s Women’s Four-Ball with partner and former Dallas Baptist University teammate Faith Delagarza.
In the men’s competition, Greg Odom Jr. heads the field and looks to add to his impressive competitive resume at Cedar Crest. A graduate student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Odom’s amateur career highlights include winning the 2023 USF-Howard Intercollegiate, 2022 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship, 2022 River Run Collegiate, and the 2021 and 2022 PGA Works Collegiate Championship.
The iconic Cedar Crest Golf Course was founded in 1919 and was designed by famed golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast. During its illustrious 104-year history, Cedar Crest has been the site of many significant national tournaments including the 1927 PGA Championship, won by Walter Hagen, the 1954 U.S. Amateur Public Links, won by Gene Andrews, and the 1954 UGA National Negro Open, won by Charlie Sifford, the third of his six overall titles in the event. Tillinghast, Hagen, and Sifford are all members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, Cedar Crest unveiled larger-than-life bronze statues in honor of Hagen and Sifford as permanent features of its Legends Plaza.
“It may not hit them until they are on-site and playing the golf course, but these young amateurs will be walking on the same grounds and in the same footsteps of some of the most famous and trailblazing golfers of all time,” said Dave Ridley, I AM a Golfer Foundation co-founder and chairman. “Many of these players will become trailblazers themselves both on and off the golf course later in life. We view this event as a springboard for them.”
The Southwest Airlines Showcase will also feature a Saturday night gala dinner with a keynote speaker and a Sunday morning am-am fundraising event, followed by three days of official tournament play. During the morning of each day’s competition, the schedule will allow for conferences, seminars, and job fairs not only for the contestants, but also for other area minority youth.
Admission to the tournament is free and the public is encouraged to attend. It is a wonderful opportunity to watch a diverse field of talented and passionate young golfers as they take on the challenge of a renowned championship venue.
For more information about the Southwest Airlines Showcase at Cedar Crest, click here. For more information about the I AM a Golfer Foundation, click here.