The USGA has made it both easier and more difficult to compete in its junior championships, raising the age maximum from 17 to 18 and lowering the maximum handicap requirements for boys and girls.
Eighteen year olds will now be able to compete in the event, but their handicaps will be lower than ever. Junior girls now must have a 9.4 handicap index or less, a 49% decrease, while boys must have a 4.4 handicap index or less, a 31% decrease.
"The changes in our junior championship are being made to ensure the strongest fields possible," USGA President Diana Murphy said. "We anticipate that raising the maximum age will also increase our entries and participation in junior golf in general, which ties into our strategic mission for championships."
According to a press release from the USGA, raising the age maximum "brings these championships more in line with the worldwide standards for junior golfers." The 17-year-old maximum had been in place since the late 1940s.