Hole in One: Battle Creek’s first PGA Jr. League team finishes season undefeated

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Young Tulalip tribal member, Brodie Kane, retrieved a few tees and his left-handed driver from his mini, red Ping golf bag and headed toward the driving range of the Battle Creek Golf Course. With extreme focus, he lined up his shot, adjusted his cap to block the sun from his eyes, and took a couple practice swings before driving the ball nearly one hundred yards. Brodie, who is eight, is part of Battle Creek’s first-ever PGA Jr. League golf team. 

The team recently completed their first season undefeated, competing against six other teams within their league including teams from the Snohomish and Echo Falls golf courses. Brodie is one of six Tulalip tribal members on the team of twelve, along with his younger brother Braiden, Nolan and Emily Hegnes and also Hudson and Sammy Reyes. 

“This is fun, I wish they had this when I was growing up,” expresses Hudson and Sammy’s grandfather, Ray Sheldon Jr. “I think we should try to find more ways to get young tribal members involved because this is an active game they can play for the rest of their lives, instead of sitting at home and watching TV or playing video games. I hope next year even more young tribal members will come out and play and get out and enjoy the sun.”

Ray attends all of his grandsons’ matches, following closely in a golf cart, offering both advice and support to them along the course. 

“Hudson can drive the ball over two hundred yards and can hit a six-iron one hundred and sixty yards,” he proudly beams. “It’s a great program, I’m so happy I get to play a sport with them.”

The PGA Jr. League is offered at many golf courses nationwide to all children under the age of thirteen. The league was originally founded in 2011 and enlists professional PGA golfers as their coaches, teaching the youngsters about sportsmanship and how to conduct themselves while on the course. The Jr. League also hosts a number of competitions and camps throughout the summer, including the very popular Drive, Chip and Putt Competitions.

“It’s been so amazing; Brodie can’t wait to keep playing. He’s ecstatic that he got to golf three times this week,” says Brodie and Braiden’s mother, Dinesha Kane. “He’s grown so much since the beginning of the season; he’s more confident. I think more of our Native children should get involved because it helps our kids learn etiquette, patience and it gives them so much confidence and that transfers over to life.”

Battle Creek coaches, Alex Stacey and Bob Styles, reflected on a successful season, crediting a great turnout and a fun environment. The Battle Creek PGA Jr. golfers are now headed to the postseason championship rounds after finishing their season with a perfect record. Although the season has come to an end, Coach Alex encourages local kids to join-in on the fun during Battle Creek’s upcoming summer camp hosted August 7-9. 

Brodie also encourages his fellow Tulalip youth to join him on the course next season, offering to play with any youngins interested in hitting the links.

“I learned a lot more moves about hitting and teeing up,” he exclaimed. “I like to use my putter because you line up the hole on the putter with the ball and it’s easier to hit it in. I think other kids should play because they might want to learn as well, because they might’ve seen people on TV playing golf. I think they should ask their moms and dads or uncles or grandmas if they can play because golf is really fun!” 

For more information, including how to sign-up your little golfers for summer camp or next year’s team, please visit the Battle Creek Golf Course Pro Shop or call (360) 659-7931.

Begay Cuts Ribbon on World-Class Golf Course He Helped Design


By Lee Allen, ICTMN

The ‘ka-ching’ of cash registers and golfers hollering ‘Fore’ made last week’s opening of the Sewailo Golf Course outside Tucson a resounding success.

Sewailo (Flower World in the Yaqui language) is an 18-hole, par 72 course that measures 7,400 yards from the championship tees (with five tee boxes on each hole to accommodate players of all abilities). According to Sewailo’s general manager, Dan LaRouere, “The $28-million course will employ up to 90 workers, many of them tribal members.”

Notah Begay III, who designed Arizona’s Pascua Yaqui tribe’s course, said that Sewailo “will revolutionize golf in this part of the country as one of the top courses in Arizona. The course design, from routing of the holes to landscape architecture, will put us in strong consideration for a top ranking.”

RELATED Notah Begay III: Leading by Example

Begay won four PGA tourneys, became a businessman and a philanthropist before morphing into his day job as a commentator for NBC’s golfing events. He is also president of NB3 Consulting, the group that designed Segwailo.

Begay walked what was once a desert before conceptualizing a layout for the course – it’s the third course he has designed.

“These projects start from the standpoint of culture and it’s important we maintain a respect for culture and tradition in the communities in which we work,” Begay said. “I asked for guidance from our Creator as we shaped this course.”

During the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, a parade of speakers, many of them members of the tribal council, took turns at the podium to praise those who helped make it happen.

“We’ve gone from predictions that ‘you can’t do anything with this barren land’ to what we’ve already built – and we’re not going to stop here,” said Chairman Peter Yucupiccio.

Ty Butler collaborated with Begay on the course design and told the opening day crowd of some 300 attendees, “Vision and leadership from the tribe gave Notah and I a path to walk down, and as a result, we have a world-class golf course that will make an impact, not only in Southern Arizona, but nationally.”

Before hitting the ceremonial first tee shot, Begay said, “When I first came here, there was a lot of uncertainty about what a world-class golf outlet might do for the community, how it might stimulate economic growth.  Times got tough between groundbreaking on 12-12-12 and ribbon-cutting a year later, but this is a true collaboration. True in the sense that when times got tough, nobody ran. We stayed together and worked through it because we believed in the worth of the outcome.”

“I’ve seen the best courses in the country. I’ve played the best courses.  And things don’t get any better than what you’ll find at Sewailo.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com//2013/12/16/begay-cuts-ribbon-world-class-golf-course-he-helped-design-152745

Notah Begay III: Leading by Example

By Lee Allen, ICTMN

All kinds of platitudes are applicable here, like, “Lead, don’t follow” or “To thine own self be true.”

Notah Begay III, perhaps the most ubiquitous Native American in contemporary society, subscribes to many of them—“The whole thing comes full circle,” says the good-looking man who tells a rags-to-riches story about becoming the first Native American on the Professional Golf Association Tour.

Now an NBC golf analyst, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Begay grew up with the sport after being introduced to the game by his father. How he got from a scrawny kid youngster in Albuquerque to a resounding success on several fronts should provide initiative to other young Natives chasing a dream.

“At the age of 6, I started collecting and recycling aluminum cans to raise enough money to buy a bucket of balls. By age 9, still a skinny little Indian kid, I introduced myself to the club pro and told him I’d work for nothing if I could practice on off-hours. From then until I went to college, I’d show up at 5:30 every morning and put in a couple of hours performing meaningless tasks like emptying trash, sweeping floors and parking golf carts. Then I’d get to practice from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. every day—at no charge. I thought it was the greatest job in the world, because I got to hit as many golf balls as I wanted.”

By age 17, he was the No. 1 junior golfer in the country (with friend and later Stanford college roommate Tiger Woods at second). “There weren’t a lot of brown guys out there at the time, just me and Tiger,” he says.

RELATED: Tiger Woods and Notah Begay Talk Indian Country, Secrets of Their Success and Life After Golf

Graduating with a degree in economics, Begay went on to immediate professional success, winning four tournaments before he got injured. Then depression set in with a stint in jail for drunken driving. “Sometimes fate presents opportunities,” Begay said. “I landed on my feet and made the appropriate changes in my life to become better.”

Today the 41-year-old star gets to talk about the sport he loves as a commentator as well as designing new golf courses—like the Pascua Yaqui tribe’s 18-hole course set to open next month in Tucson.

Begay’s fame and fortune allowed him to expand his horizons through entrepreneurship (KivaSun Foods) and philanthropy (The Notal Begay III Foundation, a.k.a. NB3F), both directly connected with Native health.

In 2010, he and a partner invested in a company selling bison meat, “a challenging project,” he says, and one that again called on him to persevere.

“I thought because I was Notah Begay that I could do anything, and I found out quickly that’s not the case. In the extremely competitive food industry, nobody cares how far you can drive a golf ball, they just care if the product tastes good and is priced right.

“There were some dark days with the company nearly at the point of being down to our last dollar. We hung in there, solved problems and formed industry partnerships [sourcing bison from the 57-tribe InterTribal Buffalo Council]. Today we’re looking to surpass $5 million in sales and should approach copy0 million in sales in the next two years.”

Which brings us to the concept of cultural full-circle. “All the stuff in the for-profit world transferred into our non-profit work with the NB3 Foundation,” he says. A percentage of KivaSun sales gets donated to NB3 to support Native American health efforts through sports and education. “This is a lifelong commitment for me,” Begay says. “I’ll be doing it for decades to come, because that’s how long it will take to provide services to our Indian communities to address childhood obesity and the diabetes epidemic.

“If we don’t start making changes in our lifestyle choices, our people’s lifespans will continue to get shorter. Native American lifespans are the shortest of any U.S. minority group, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Asked to offer up something the general public doesn’t already know about him, Begay says he tries to set an example for others by being a good role model. “Marriage and fatherhood are not static commitments, and I work diligently to be a better husband and father. Home and family is the starting point of my day—it’s where I get my strength. And if I can’t set a good example within my own home, how can I help anybody else’s child?”

The man-who-made-it offers a message to Indian children trying for their own successes: “Don’t limit your dreams. Educate yourself, take care of yourself, push yourself to fulfill your goals.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/10/notah-begay-iii-leading-example-152225