Black Rock Creek Golf Course Pro Jeff Bender will be the first to tell you he was blessed when he was young to know good people who encouraged him to do well.
It was perhaps because of those dealings when he was younger that motivates him to return the effort to area youth today.
Bender was recently the recipient of the Professional Golf Association Junior Golf Leader of the Year award for Central Washington.
"It is a great honor for me," said Bender. "It motivates me in a lot of ways."
Bender said the award, for which one has to be nominated, recognizes those who go beyond the call of duty for youth in the golf world.
His involvement with youth ranges from working with area high school golfers on their swings to offering a junior golf program, which last year drew 40 area youngsters. Bender is even working on establishing a Central Washington Gateway to Golf Junior Academy, which is designed in part to encourage the golf abilities of area youth.
But what earned Bender the PGA Junior Golf Leader award was his ongoing efforts in organizing a Central Washington Junior Golf Tournament.
"That was the main reason I was awarded that," said Bender pointing to his plaque.
Bender came up with the idea for the tour when he realized that there are not very many youth golf tournaments in Eastern Washington. Bender said there are only three youth tournaments on this side of the state.
"And they go boom, boom, boom," said Bender.
Bender said he wanted to devise a tournament that would not only benefit Central Washington youth, but parents and family of youth golfers. Bender said by having a series of tournaments in Central Washington, parents and other family members can take a couple of hours from their day and not have to worry about traveling too far to see a son or daughter compete.
Bender said the tour stops will include several of the Valley's golf courses.
If everything goes according to plan, Bender is hoping to have the Central Washington youth golf tour up and ready to go by the 2006 season.