Check out our Class of 2026 Previews!

Class of 2026 Boys Preview

5/10 CGC Staff

Every once in a while a class of golfers comes along and people say, ‘The top of this class is special.’ The boys of the class of 2026 fit this description, and come June 15th, college coaches will be lighting up athletes’ phones to convince them that their school is the best fit for them. As the clock is ticking towards that day that this class has circled on their calendar, we’ll introduce you to the cream of the crop of the Class of 2026.

Photo: @bladesbrown2026 on X

Photo: Wagr

Two athletes currently stand above the rest: Tennessee’s Blades Brown and Alabama-bred Tyler Watts. The two friends have made names for themselves in both junior and amateur events, with no stage too big for each of them. Brown made a splash in his first PGA Tour event, the Myrtle Beach Classic, as he finished T-26th in his debut. Brown’s amateur resume is most impressive, claiming stroke play medalist honors at the 2023 US Amateur before bowing out in the round of 32 in match play. At this year’s Jones Cup Invitational, he flirted with the lead before finishing in a tie for 5th among the top college players in the country. Brown can also claim a 5th place finish in the 2023 Tennessee Open professional event and 9th place at the recent Terra Cotta Invitational. Watts amateur achievements include breaking Gordon Sargent’s record as the youngest Alabama state Amateur champion in history in 2023, and a runner-up finish at the 2024 Terra Cotta. Both golfers have amassed wins and top-10 finishes in high profile junior events in 2023. Brown claimed victories at the AJGA Wyndham Invitational, the Elite Invitational, and the Tennessee Junior Amateur in 2023, as well as two open AJGA events. Top-10 finishes in 2023 include the Western Junior and the North & South Junior , and he started off 2024 strong with top-5 finishes at the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship and the Dustin Johnson World Junior. Watts has found similar junior tournament success and raised the winner’s trophy at the Jones Cup Junior Invitational and the Southern Junior, in addition to an AJGA open event. He finished second to Brown at the Elite Invitational and notched top-5 finishes at the 2024 Dustin Johnson World Junior and the AJGA Junior Players Championship. He recently finished tied for 2nd at the AJGA Mayakoba Invitational. We expect these two talented athletes to battle in tournaments for the next two years before they head to their colleges of choice.

Texan Henry Guan was the first 2026 grad to arrive on the scene back in 2022, with a victory at the 2022 AJGA Wyndham Invitational at age 13. After participating in the Wyndham and Junior Presidents Cups that year, he finished 2nd at the South Beach International Amateur against a strong collegiate field. He continued his success in 2023, amassing an impressive collection of top-10 finishes in high-profile events. Top-5 finishes include 5th at Terra Cotta Invitational and the Dustin Johnson World Junior, 2nd at the AJGA Wyndham Invitational, and 2nd at the AJGA Jack Burke Invitational. He capped off 2023 with a solid 6th at the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions. Any college would welcome Guan’s consistency in their lineup.

Photo: AJGA

Photo: Naples Daily News

Another Texan that built his resume in 2023 is Luke Colton, and he has started off 2024 with a bang. Colton recently won the Terra Cotta Invitational, a field littered with the top juniors, collegiate players on the verge of making their teams’ lineup, and some of the country’s top mid-ams. He began 2024 with a 5th place showing at the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship and carded two open AJGA top-3 finishes. In 2023, Colton’s top finishes included a 2nd place finish at the Dye Invitational and runner-up at the AJGA Under Armour/Jordan Spieth Championship. Two weeks ago, he took the title at the Texas class 4A state high school championship, and he finished tied for 2nd at the AJGA Mayakoba Invitational. His stock has risen at the perfect time before recruiting ramps up in June.

Two Florida natives are next on our list. Tyler Mawhinney started 2023 with a 4th place finish at the AJGA Justin Thomas Junior Championship, then entered the class of 2026 top-10 conversation with a breakout win at the Scott Robertson Memorial. He notched a 10th place finish at the Junior PGA Championship before ramping up his game in the fall. He etched two AJGA Invitational top-10 finishes before ending 2023 with a victory at the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions. He’s started 2024 slowly, but we expect a strong summer from Mawhinney while beginning college recruitment. Phillip Dunham has notched three wins since April of 2023, starting with a victory at the AJGA Spot X Hotel Junior Championship. He later took the 2023 Dye Invitational trophy home after a playoff with Colton and won the 2024 Sea Pines Junior Heritage in some challenging weather conditions. In addition to his runner-up finish at the AJGA Junior Players Championship, he garnered top-10 finishes at two other Invitationals: the Polo Junior Classic and the Rolex Tournament of Champions. He is another athlete whose game we expect to come around after a slow start to 2024.

Photo: Clay Today

Photo: @Phillipdunham X

Photo: AJGA

Photo: The Pilot

The above athletes are currently the standouts of the class of 2026, but two others are on their heels and will attract significant attention from college coaches. Texan Sterling Hurd made a habit of finishing in the top-10 in 2023, which gained him invitations to more high profile events in the fall. He captured two AJGA open wins in July of 2023, including the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and took advantage of his new Invitational status with top-10 finishes and the Junior Players and the PING. Hurd started off 2024 with a win and a runner-up finish on the Legends Junior Tour, followed by a 6th place showing at the Dustin Johnson World Junior. Next in this pairing is Nebraska’s Coltrane Mittag, a name that is consistently lingering on the leaderboard. His game was hot in June and July of 2023, notching a win at the Junior North & South, 3rd at the AJGA Under Armour/Jordan Spieth Championship, 4th at the Western Junior, and 7th at the Bubba Conlee Tournament. Quite an impressive month of golf! After a 4th place finish at the Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational, he has lingered in the top-15 in early 2024 tournaments. Mittag is one to keep an eye on this year.

Keep an eye out for the class of 2026 girls to watch..