Higley’s Jake Walden Second Arizona Teen Chosen For PURE Insurance Championship

Photo Courtesy Jake Walden

Story by Nathan Peterson

For the 18th year, First Tee and PGA TOUR Champions will put on the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting the First Tee, with 82 teens from First Tee chapters across the United States coming to Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course for the PGA TOUR Champions tournament.

This year, two Valley natives, Abigale Morris and Jake Walden, will make the trip to Pebble Beach.

Jake, a senior at Higley High School, is a seven-year First Tee member, starting at the age of six and taking
time off of golf once moving to Oregon till the age of 10. While not only being a great golfer with a USGA Handicap of 1.7, Walden has had to overcome more than most at his young age.


Walden, since the age of 11 has been diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome, a bone marrow failure disease that has shaped him into the person he is today. Walden has made it a constant effort to give back to the community in more ways than one, but he says his favorite and most passionate effort is volunteering at the Arizona Special Olympics.

“Being able to see all these kids to 50 year old adults, it is amazing to see how happy they are no matter what is going on in their lives,” Walden said. “They’re always out there with a smile and it has positively impacted my life more so than my golf. Having that positive outlook on life because it is hard with my bone marrow failure disease. But being able to see them just having a blast and having fun. It’s an eye-opener to see that no matter what, it’s going to be okay and I will always have these lifelong friends that I have made through the Special Olympics. It is truly amazing and inspirational.”

Perseverance has been a key core value for Walden throughout his life whether it is on the green or not.
Being selected to play in the PURE Insurance Championship shows the work that Walden has put in on
and off the golf course.


“Being able to go out to a tournament and have the confidence to know that I belong here,” Walden said. “Having that handicap number is a blessing and a curse because I am hard on myself. It gives me the confidence that even if I play bad the first day, I know I can come back and play like I know I can.”

Walden was selected by a panel of judges based on his personal growth and life skills learned through
First Tee’s program as well as his playing ability. This year’s field of PGA TOUR Champions players will feature World Golf Hall of Fame Members Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh, as well as three-time PURE Insurance Championship winners Kirk Triplett and Jeff Sluman. Clint Eastwood serves as chairman of the PURE Insurance Championship.

One male and one female First Tee member will be crowned champion in September. Walden and Morris have the opportunity to be the third and fourth champion from Arizona including Patrick Fernandez in 2016 paired with Michael Allen and Ashley Menne in 2019 paired with Tom Lehman.

For Abigale Morris’ story, click here