Roads to Scholarships: In tuition

Roads to Scholarships: In tuition


Katie and Art Leon
Residence: Dallas, Texas
John and Joann Deforest
Residence: Cottekill, N.Y.

Sons Tyler and Trent star on the Oklahoma State golf team; daughter Taylor plays at the University of Georgia. Tyler plans to try Q-School this fall; Taylor plans to turn pro before she graduates from college. Each child was at one point ranked the No. 1 junior player in Texas. Five sons. Chris, 18, and Andrew, 15, both play in the AJGA. Chris will attend the University of Illinois on a golf scholarship this fall.
Toddlers “They were swinging the little plastic clubs right about the time they started walking,” Art says. “They’d beat them around in the yard. Nothing serious. Just getting them exposed to the game.” “I’ve operated a golf course since the boys were very little,” says John, who played on the PGA Tour in the 1980s. “I got cut-down clubs for them but no formal instruction. As long as they weren’t hitting other kids with them, that was pretty much the only rule.”
Ages 3-6 “They might come with me to the course and walk around a bit. They’d look at the flowers or the turtles in the water. Maybe they’d hit a few shots.” “They were very natural athletes and they pretty much just copied everything I did. They might hit a few balls here and there. But nothing formal.”
Ages 7-12 “They played their first competitive tournaments when they were around 6 or 7. They went at it hard. But it’s not like they gave up everything for golf. They played other sports like baseball and basketball.” “We didn’t push them, and they played other sports. Chris was more interested in golf, so at age 12 he decided to focus exclusively on it. He got his first real set of clubs. But I didn’t buy any equipment until they did something to deserve it — practicing or packing groceries.”
Ages 13-14

“They started entering top-level tournaments through the AJGA. The AJGA kind of became a way of life. It was hard sometimes to pass up playing golf with my own buddies. But that’s what I did.” “By this age, Chris could really play. When he was 13, we were in a tournament together and we both shot 65 to tie. We played a nine-hole playoff the next day, and Chris won.”
Ages 15-18 “They went to the Leadbetter Academy. What I liked about the academy is that every kid was committed to a sport. You didn’t fiddle-faddle around. No drinking and smoking. I’m not saying they didn’t get into trouble now and then like all kids do. But they had excellent supervision.” “They played high school golf. They never went to an academy or a sleep-away golf camp. They started playing in local events, and they worked their way up. Chris earned an invitation to a big AJGA event and won it. That’s one thing I tell parents: Don’t worry about pushing your kids into top tournaments right off the bat. If they’re talented, they’ll get noticed.”

“By the time they were in 10th and 11th grade, they’d picked out five or six schools. We started writing letters to coaches, updating them on what the kids were up to. We’d send those updates once a month. By the time they were ready to graduate high school, they had scholarship offers.” “They looked around at programs that interested them. We sent out some letters. In Chris’ case, his performance brought him exposure. Eventually the coaches came to us.”

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