ANA PUEBLO, N.M. -- With a heritage of building its own success
stories in growing the game, some 20 Sun Country PGA Professionals
met 90 Native American junior golfers Saturday for more than a traditional
afternoon of golf instruction.
Native American Youth Golf Clinic, hosted at Twin Warriors Golf
Club, was preceded by a proclamation by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson,
whose signed document proclaiming June 27, 2009, "Native American
Youth Golf Day" in the state.
clinic featured addresses by representative of higher education
and the golf industry and a guest lesson by PGA Professional Tim
Thelen of College Station, Texas, a two-time National Champion who
won the last of his two national titles in 2003 at Twin Warriors.
clinic precedes Sunday's opening round of the 42nd PGA Professional
National Championship at Twin Warriors and nearby Santa Ana Golf
is a day in which we all can be proud," said Santa Ana Pueblo
Governor Bruce Sanchez, who accepted the New Mexico governor's framed
proclamation. "We are proud to say that we put a program together
for all to enjoy this sport. It is an inspiration as a Native American.
Golf has so many great values - teaching discipline, mental stability
as you can hear from others today, you will find a vast educational
system to do a lot more than many people would dream."
clinic attendees ranged from middle to high school age, with many
having spent several years learning the game in the Santa Ana Pueblo
junior program, guided by the father-son PGA Professional team of
Robert and Rob Lowry.
Lowry, a PGA teaching professional at Santa Ana Golf Club, estimates
that over the past 6-½ years he has touched some 40,000 students
throughout the greater Albuquerque area.
have enjoyed some great success, and we have yet to reach many more
who would love to be in golf," said Lowry. "We have worked
to gain the funding when past funding has ended."
the attendees was Memoree LeCompte, 16, of Rio Rancho, N.M., a junior-to-be
at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque. She not only has lowered
her stroke average more than a dozen strokes over the past few years,
but also carries a 4.0 grade point average in the classroom.
began playing golf at age 8 and really came back into the sport
in competition at 13," said LeCompte. "I got the opportunities
to enjoy the game and stay with it from the Santa Ana Pueblo program.
The instructors, which include my swing coach, Robert Lowry, really
help you and support you. I am planning to attend college and stay
LeCompte, 48, beamed when speaking about his daughter's progress
through the Santa Ana Pueblo program.
program is A-plus," said LeCompte, formerly of South Dakota,
and now a certified public accountant for Native Americans. He is
a member of the Sioux Nation.
can't beat it for what these professionals, led by Roger Martinez
[general manager and PGA director of golf at Santa Ana Golf Corporation]
and Robert Lowry, have done for the kids of the Pueblo. This program
has given my kid so many opportunities. I just wish that the same
program was available across the western states for more."
clinic was guided by PGA Professionals representing the Sun Country
PGA Section, who provided instruction, along with PGA Professional
Pat Gavin of Las Cruces, director of the Professional Golf Management
University program at New Mexico State University; and Fred Palmer,
vice president of national accounts for Club Car Inc.
instruction will be a big part of it as well as having fun, the
main focus is introducing these kids to the opportunities of becoming
a PGA Professional," says Sun Country PGA Executive Director
not trying to sell you on New Mexico State, but I am trying to sell
you on making golf as a career," Gavin said.
said that a variety of talents that one may consider not golf-related,
are just as much a part of a youngster seeking employment in the
you able to draw? Can you show that you are willing to put in hard
work to achieve a goal in business?" asked Palmer. "You
are needed? If you can pursue a college degree, stay in golf and
pursue your passion, you will find more and more opportunities that
are ahead of you."
Sun Country PGA Section, in partnership with the New Mexico Sports
Authority, a division of the New Mexico Tourism Department, dedicated
to promoting sports throughout New Mexico, has developed a scholarship
program for Native American youths wanting to pursue a career in
the graduates of the Native American program at Laguna Pueblo, just
outside of Albuquerque, was Corey Duma, who just completed his freshman
year at New Mexico State University and is in the Professional Golf
Management University program.
learned to play golf at the age of 11, when my little brother fell
in love with the game and then I did, too," said Duma. "Growing
up with great teachers and mentors was positive for me and was huge
in helping me on the way to becoming a PGA member.
love teaching kids and being at an event like this and teaching
at summer junior programs each year. Golf teaches integrity and
responsibility. Golf is just like life where it teaches you life
lessons. My coaches at the junior clinics, growing up in New Mexico
and in these programs, have taught me so much."
have really enjoyed my time at New Mexico State University and I
am excited about becoming a PGA member. My goal is to become a PGA
teaching professional and help others learn the game."
Montoya of Santa Ana Pueblo, a senior Professional Golf Management
student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, is well on his way
to a career in the golf business with his graduation around the
a Native American and a Professional Golf Management University
program student, being involved in the clinic means a lot to me,"
says Montoya. "It's promoting the game of golf and also the
program, but more importantly it's letting these kids know what
opportunities are out there for them in the golf business.
I graduate, my main goal will be giving back to my community through
the game of golf and further growing this sport which has come to
be a part of me. Overall, it's about getting more Native Americans
involved in golf and letting those juniors know that there is a
career; it's not just about playing, but there is a business side
of golf. That's what I'd like to see more of, Native Americans in
the general manager/head golf professional positions."
it a beautiful thing to see someone like Jason have the chance to
return and teach those who grew up in the same neighborhood and
program as he did," said Speary.
are seven courses either owned or operated by Native American entities
in the Sun Country PGA Section, including Santa Ana Golf Club and
Twin Warriors, but very few have Native American PGA members.
a team effort in New Mexico, there is hope that Montoya will be
a leader for a new generation of Native American PGA Professionals.