EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Notah Begay III is one of the only Native Americans to ever play on the PGA Tour.
He grew up in Albuquerque and got a golf scholarship to Stanford, where he played with his good friend Tiger Woods, before turning pro. Now, he’s giving back to the game, the Land of Enchantment, and the Borderland.
The Notah Begay III Junior Golf Tour is in its second year, and will bring four local qualifiers to the Borderland in the coming weeks, three in Las Cruces and one in El Paso. Begay himself has played a big role in making it happen.
“I grew up playing down there. I played in the state championship down there, I won the All-American at the El Paso Country Club, and I’ve been a part of that golf community my entire life,” Begay said. “We are committed to being down there and providing unique opportunities for kids to come aboard and be a part of an exciting adventure.”
The Notah Begay III Tour will host local qualifiers at New Mexico State University Golf Course (May 22-23), Painted Dunes Golf Club in El Paso (May 26-27), Red Hawk Golf Club (June 2-3) and Picacho Hills Country Club (June 8-9). Junior golf ranking points will be given for future tournaments.
20 qualifiers will advance to the New Mexico Regional in Albuquerque in August; regional winners advance to the November Tour championship in Louisiana, which is broadcast on the Golf Channel. For Begay, it’s a way to make golf fun and affordable for the next generation.
“We want to make this game accessible. Historically, golf is expensive and tough to break into,” Begay said. “We’re looking to make sure that every kid that wants to participate, is willing to put the time in and the work in to get better and be a good competitive golfer, has a chance to play, and not only that, but the chance to progress to higher levels.”
Since his playing days ended, Begay has been a broadcaster for the Golf Channel. He’ll be on the call of the PGA Championship this weekend at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.
Begay said he hopes to be at some of the local qualifiers in the Borderland. The local qualifiers are broken into a series of age brackets: Boys 16-18, Boys 14-15, Boys 13 & Under, Girls 16-18, Girls 14-15 and Girls 13 & Under.