I was on the driving range at Bay Hill last year, and I noticed Notah Begay hitting balls with his brother Clint on the bag. I strolled over to say “hi” and get a laugh from these really good guys on the PGA TOUR. After a few minutes, I told Notah about our new series, Golf in America and asked him about any story ideas he may have.
That question triggered an outpouring of passion. Notah told me about the many disadvantages Native American youth face which include poverty, obesity, diabetes and the lack of optimism. He asked me to come out to New Mexico to not only see the difficulties for myself, but also to learn more about his NB3 Foundation which is using sports to tackle the many obstacles these kids battle. It was not a tough sell, and after convincing our producers, I was off to the Southwest.
I landed in
My next stop was a nearby reservation which was beautiful but very remote. With no metropolitan area in sight, it showed me the disadvantages these great people face. We stopped at a school where I met Notah. He sat down for an interview and opened up about his career and personal life, which have both seen ups and downs. He also spoke of how proud he is of his foundation and its successes, which I saw first-hand.
After our interview, Notah took me to a practice area for the school’s golf team. There is no grass; instead, the team hits off mats. But they love the game so much that the kids built their own course. There are plenty of hazards that include a nearby corral and a lot of cacti. Their tee markers are rocks, but to these kids, it’s their Augusta National and yes, they play the ball down. Their passion for the game is fueled by the inspiration from Notah’s career and the success of his foundation.
I hope you feel inspired after watching our piece on Golf in America.