Oh my! Where to begin? Well, for starters in February I was out at a Lone Star Golf Association event, and a lady I sometimes play with on Sundays told me that a man named Mr. Gary Carter was looking for some young African American golfers to play with him in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational Pro Am in Midland, MI. My parents and I said yes, and immediately started looking at airfare and hotels.
This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and experience. I learned so many things about Dow, the LPGA, Inclusion and Diversity, what it takes to play at the professional level, and my own golf game. I met so many wonder and amazing people and had a fulfilling week. I was one of three young lady African American golfers. Zoe Slaughter and Tiarra Rodrigues were the two girls that I spent my time in Midland with. We all instantly became good friends. I had met Zoe before, but it was my first-time meeting Tiarra. Zoe helped me with my golf game and Tiarra was telling me about her time at Prairie View A & M University and being on the golf team. I picked up some great college tips from her.
It's more than just the golf
The Eat Great Festival and the city of Midland was so excited to host the LPGA. It was their first time ever doing something like this. The people there were very inviting and friendly. It was tons of fun, the food was amazing, and I even made it on the local Midland news. We went there on Sunday and Monday evening. There was live music, rock climbing, board games, even a money booth that I was able to score $44. There were all kinds of appetizers, foods, and desserts to try from the local restaurants.
Watching the pros is a great learning experience
On Monday morning we went out to Midland Country Club to watch the practice round and see how LPGA prepare for a tournament. It was amazing to watch them putt and see how they manage the course. I picked up tons of putting drills. I was able to talk to a few caddies and ask them how often their player changes out her clubs. I was very surprised to hear that the average player changes their clubs once or twice every 6 to 9 months. I’m still holding on to my set from 2015! Later that evening at Dow Diamond Baseball Field, was the host location of the Paring Party. This was when we found out our pairings for the PRO-AM. I was able to meet and talk to lots of professional golfers. My team was paired up with Kendall Dye and Kristy McPherson. Also, that evening, we went back down town to The Eat Great Festival and up to one of the buildings at the festival, where we had pizza and ice cream on the rooftop. I met an organization called Midnight Golf out of Detroit. It’s a mentoring program that helps high school students Transition into college.
Meeting golfers from the Midnight Golf Program
There was about twenty or so African American boys and girls. The teens from the Midnight Golf program would caddie for us the day of the Pro Am. At the Meet and Greet with the Midnight Golf mentor program. Zoe, Tiarra and I introduced ourselves to everyone, and the Dow Representatives introduced themselves. Mrs. Karen Carter, the Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Inclusion Officer was INTIMIDATING, but in a funny, great, and loving way. She said a quote that I will never forget, “I’m standing in the shade of the tree of the person who planted it before me.” It made me realize how much Dow is doing for inclusion and diversity for the African American community.
“Everyone can hit the ball long. Everyone can hit it straight. At the end of the day, it’s just a big chipping and putting contest.”
Tuesday was the Pro Am. It was absolutely wonderful. We were able to receive free Peter Millar golf clothing and we ate breakfast inside the club house. The club house was gorgeous and MASSIVE. We played with Kendall on the front nine and Kristy on the back nine. It was kind of funny introducing myself to Kendall. She was pretty cool, calm, and collected. Kristy on the other hand was the life of the party. She cracked so many jokes. They were both very helpful and very personable. We all ended up exchanging phone number’s afterwards. During the round, we got to meet and take a picture Kay Cockerill from the Golf Channel. I enjoyed chatting with her and learning about her. I even won the longest drive with a 248-yard drive into the wind and closest to the pin with 35 inches away from being in the hole. I believe the most valuable insight I gained from both the ladies was “Everyone can hit the ball long. Everyone can hit it straight. At the end of the day, it’s just a big chipping and putting contest.” The time they spend on the range, they spend more, if not double the time working on their short game. We ended up placing in the top five. That evening Kendall and Kristy surprised us at dinner. It was the start of a wonderful friendship and it was a truly a special day that I will cherish forever.
I am so happy, blessed, and just utterly amazed at my time spent in Midland. I am now an even bigger fan of the LPGA than I was before. I want to especially thank Mr. and Mrs. Carter for all they have done. She even told me that I was coming back. Not asking me, but telling me that I am coming back next year. I would also like to thank Black Girl’s Golf for not only allowing me to write about my experience, but last year when I was at camp, about being okay with being the only African American girl, if not person at golf tournaments. The week also made me aspire to play golf not only in college, but maybe even on the LPGA Tour one day. Lastly, I want to thank my parents. They have been pushing me to go above and beyond in golf and I am so grateful for all that they have done for me. THANK YOU!