LOUISVILLE – Justin Thomas was pegged as a future superstar in the world of golf at the age of 16, when he made the cut at the Wyndham Championship in 2009. More success followed: inevitable tour wins, the 2017 PGA championship title, membership on the 2018 Ryder Cup team and ascension to being the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
At the ripe old age of 25, with most of his on-course career still far ahead of him, Thomas decided he wanted to give back. On Wednesday, at Harmony Landing Golf Club in Goshen, he announced the formation of a new foundation that will benefit six charities.
Thomas, who tied for 12th in the Masters and currently ranks No. 5 in the world, said he would personally be heavily involved in the foundation, along with his family, including his mom Jani and father Mike, who has been the head pro at Harmony Landing since 1990.
“We’ve been very fortunate to be able to give back and do some behind-the-scenes things, but we felt like the timing was right to take the next step forward,” Thomas said. “The time was right to get the ball rolling, and it’s definitely been a fun process so far.”
Thomas said the foundation would benefit the following charities: Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana; The First Tee of Louisville; the Kentucky Golf Foundation; The First Tee of Tuscaloosa; Convoy of Hope; and Folds of Honor.
Thomas, who attended college at the University of Alabama, said causes that focused on teaching the game of golf to children living in poorer areas and also showing support to military veterans became his focus.
“The mission of the foundation is to impact children in need, junior golf, and military families,” he said. “Obviously, two of those are very close to my heart in terms of children in need, with the First Tee and the Boys and Girls Club. I was very fortunate myself – I received a grant growing up too (to play golf). I may not know this until I’m a parent myself, just how expensive it was for my parents. My mom, driving me to all these states and all these tournaments .. all I knew was that I was a little nine or ten-year-old kid who wanted to go play golf.”
Thomas mixed in a little talk about his recent on-course exploits, saying he was looking forward to the upcoming PGA Championship, which will be played in May at Bethpage Black rather than the customary late summer dates in August. And he reflected on last weekend’s Masters championship, which saw the return to prominence of Tiger Woods and included Thomas’s ace on the par 3 16th hole.
“It was cool. I would have liked to have had a little better chance to win the last couple of holes, but it was a special day for the game of golf,” said Thomas, who finished tied for 12th at 8-under, five strokes behind Woods. “Getting a hole in one on Sunday at Augusta, that’s about as cool as it gets … that being said, that’s over with, this is what we’re focused on now, and I’ll have to come back next year and see if I can get one of those green jackets.”
Officials with the Louisville Parks and Recreation Department were also on hand to announce that the three-hole youth First Tee Golf Course at Shawnee Golf Course, located directly across the Sherman Minton Bridge in New Albany, is being renamed in Thomas’s honor.
For more information on the Justin Thomas Foundation visit www.justinthomasgolf.com/.