By Chrisopher Warner

As teaching professionals, we find ourselves associating and working with students from all walks of life, possessing numerous skill levels, and the opportunity to bring great joy to others through the wonderful sport of a lifetime.

In 2017, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a gifted and aspiring student named Taleah Washington. The connection was quite unusual, however, in that I live in Houston, Texas, and Taleah’s parents live in South Grand Prairie, Texas, about 250 miles apart. As it was, Taleah was a freshman in high school, involved in five different sports simultaneously. At a point in time, the coaches met with her and advised her that she couldn’t possibly show up to practice every day with each activity, so she would need to choose one sport and give the rest of them up. With no hesitation however, she advised them that she wanted to be on the golf team. Here was a young black girl desiring to play on the golf team despite the fact she had never even attempted to try the sport. This did surprise the coaches, but as a headstrong and determined young lady, she had her mind made up. It was soon discovered that her parents were friends with Brittany Lang and Michelle Wie West of the LPGA Tour. Ironically, at the end of a tournament in the past, I had given Michelle a golf teaching business card with my personal information on it, asking if she would send a signed photo to hang on my wall.

I never received the picture, but Michele still had my card, which she shared with Taleah’s parents, and they were advised to give me a call. Her advice was taken and after about a 45-minute phone conversation, an agreement was made for me to work with Taleah. From the beginning, there were two recognizable aspects that excelled her very rapidly. One was her absolute focus on what she was learning, and the other was her great attitude. She was patient and willing to absorb any information I provided to her. Her determination to succeed was unquestionable, and she gave it all that she had with a true spirit of learning. Every afternoon after school, she would go to the range and hit balls as well as play until it was too dark to see.

Beyond the typical teaching of striking the ball and obtaining consistency, I taught her how to work the ball and endure adversity in awkward and unusual situations. This built her confidence and ability to properly navigate any course, no matter the conditions. As a result of her diverse capabilities and navigational skills, she was very successful in winning numerous tournaments and setting records. In May 2018, she was invited to participate in the Colonial Junior Invitational. To add to that, she worked at the Ben Hogan Learning Center with The First Tee program and was selected to participate in a PGA Tour Champions event representing the state of Texas alongside Rod Pampling at Pebble Beach in 2021.

Taleah has since gone on to enjoy a full golf scholarship at Prairie View A&M University, where she is majoring in business administration and marketing. All of this is a result of her sheer determination, sacrifice, and ability to decide what she wants in life and not allowing anything to discourage her. I couldn’t be prouder.  
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