On an overcast morning in between the rainstorms, Monday, August 26, the Oneida Indian Nation and the Notah Begay IIII Foundation held its annual Youth Golf Clinic for around 50 enthusiastic Central New York golfers.
The First Tee Program from Syracuse, New York, about a 30 minute drive from Atunyote Golf Club, where the clinic was held, and its youth were between the ages of 6 and 16 were not deterred by the early morning showers and possible thunderstorms.
Notah Begay III, retired professional golfer and current NBC golf analyst, shared stories about his early days and growing up a young Native American interested in being a professional golfer, a thought that began at the mere age of 10 – and easily relatable with his current audience.
The clinic was the kick off to a week of events put on by NB3, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established by Begay in 2005 to address the epidemics of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes impacting Native American children, and to empower those children and help them realize their potential as tomorrow's leaders.
While Begay spoke to the engaged audience, he talked about the health benefits of golf, the connections the sport can build between friends and family, along with golf techniques from stance to grip.
Begay interjected comedic stories that made many in the captive audience laugh. One in particular was sharing his love with the sport of curling. The sport where a team of three move a stone along ice by one releasing the stone and the other two using brooms to clear its path working to get as close as it can to the scoring zone.
"I'm obsessed with curling," Begay said. "I don't know why. I kind of see it as putting. I can see myself gliding on the ice there," he said making a mock curling motion.
Begay shared the story about how his college golf coach at Stanford had never seen him hit a golf ball once. His coach saw his resume and athletic abilities, he also played soccer and basketball, and brought him to Stanford, where he became the captain of team that won a national championship. He shared with the kids his thoughts on working hard in golf and in school to achieve his goals.
Begay interacted with the youth on multiple occasions, one of them he asked how many of the group had played in tournaments before, to which about 15 raised their hands. Begay followed by asking who of that group got nervous on the first tee? They all kept their hands in the air, and Begay assured them it's normal and he still does.
He shared his tips on how he copes with his nerves – a mixture of deep breaths followed by a few slow swings to work through the nerves – and that they usually go away after a few holes.
Multiple youth tossed out questions for Begay, who answered each one, some a with a bit of comedy. One young female golfer asked what his favorite thing about golf was, his answer was all the people he has gotten to meet and that he can play it with friends and family.
The youth can tee this clinic and meeting with Begay up as a great reason to enjoy the sport of golf.