Founded in 1919, the Optimist Clubs, active in many American communities, are dedicated to, according to their motto, “Bringing Out The Best In Kids.” Each individual Optimist Club conducts its own activities to help children in its community. Optimist International, supported by the Optimist International Foundation, promulgates several international programs: the Childhood Cancer Campaign (CCC), the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships (OIJGC) and the organization’s various scholarship contests.
Optimists conduct 65,000 community service projects each year, spending $78 million in their communities and positively impacting over 6 million children. Programs deal with youth safety, its “Respect for Law” programs (which promote non-violence), and its “Tri-Star Sports” programs for young people.
As a major involvement tool for young people, Optimist Clubs sponsor qualifying tournaments for more than 5,000 junior golfers a year. The top junior golfers from go on to compete in the annual Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Major PGA and LPGA stars who have participated as young people in these tournaments have included Amy Alcott, Notah Begay III, Brandie Burton, John Daly, Ernie Els, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Billy Mayfair, Michelle McGann, Phil Mickelson, Nancy Lopez, Lorena Ochoa, Corey Pavin, Nick Price, Chris Riley, Craig Stadler, Paul Stankowski, David Toms and Tiger Woods.