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Press Release

Release Date: August 15, 2007

by Dana Lance



  • PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb, right, presents the PGA of American “Growth of the Game” award to Toni Pace, Chickasaw Nation Boys and Girls Club program director, center, and Chickasaw Nation Youth Specialist Chris Alford

The Chickasaw Nation Junior Golf Program was recently honored by The PGA of America for its implementation of its “Growth of the Game” grant.

"This award confirms our belief that our partnership with the PGA is really making a difference in the lives of young people," said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. "We look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come as we teach the many great life lessons golf has to offer."

The PGA of America has been affiliated with The Tribe for the past seven years, providing equipment and instructors for golf camp. More than 100 Chickasaw students are introduced each summer to a game they can play the rest of their lives.
Lessons are also taught after school at Boys and Girls Clubs around the Chickasaw Nation.

The Growth of the Game grant from The PGA of America is presented annually to charitable organizations across the country that exhibit excellence in giving back to the community. Since 2000, the PGA Community Relations Program has benefited 784 charities.
The award presentation came Aug. 6 during the PGA of America’s Community Relations Youth Clinic and “Play Golf America Day” at LaFortune Park Golf Course in Tulsa.

PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb presented the award to Chickasaw Nation Youth Specialist Chris Alford and Toni Pace, Chickasaw Nation Boys and Girls Club program director.

“The grant provides and augments the current programs our tribe offers,” said Pace. “The support The PGA of America has shown will go a long way in impacting the lives of children in Ada.”

Alford said the golf program enhances the division’s mission of enhancing the lives of Chickasaw families.

“Golf is a family-oriented sport that spans the generations,” he said. “It is a great sport to strengthen family bonds.”

The Chickasaw Nation youth had a good showing at the event, with 13 junior boy and girl golfers traveling from the Ada area to Tulsa for the day.

The 13 Chickasaw children was part of a group of more than 250 junior boys and girls from around the state, representing 16 organizations.

The group spent the morning watching nationally-renowned trick shot artist Dennis Walters. Walters, who is paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a car crash 32 years ago, stunned the crowd with his ability to hit the ball with many different clubs.

His demonstration was interlaced with the positive message of never giving up on dreams and goals, and he stressed the importance of golf-related skills such as patience and perseverance.

The Chickasaw youth group also received expert instruction from two of the 38 South Central PGA Section Golf Professionals during the morning. During the clinics, pros Mark Fuller, Edmond and Bob Fansher, Oklahoma City, gave helpful tips to students on chipping, driving, putting and using irons.

The afternoon was spent at a practice round of the 89th PGA Championship at Southern Hills Golf Course.

“I always wanted to be here,” said 12 year-old Reid Wall, a Byng sixth grader, when asked about his day at the PGA event. “The clinic was awesome, well organized, and had great teachers,” he said. Wall said the highlight of his day was seeing PGA golfer Stewart Applebee.

“It helped my understanding of the game,” said one member of the group.

“It was the best day of my life,” said Karsyn Johnson, an eight-year-old Byng second grader. “I got an autograph on my hat and I made new friends. I had a good time.”