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African American Golfers Digest Golfer of the Week
by Debra Cook
Tali Francis is a fast-learning four-year old who takes great pleasure in attending her twice-a-week golf lessons where she is the youngest in the class. Her mom, Trisha Ocona, made it a point to get Tali involved: “My Mom started me last year because she thought it was a game that I could be great in with practice,” says the youngster who was born in Brooklyn, New York.
Just like the fast pace of her Brooklyn, New York community, Tali is eager to move her golf participation forward; but says regretfully, she doesn’t belong to any golf group yet, because: “ They don’t take four-year olds, and I can’t find a junior league to take me.” Nevertheless, with her determination, surely, it won’t be long before she’s on the roster of one of the area youth leagues. But for now, she and her mom are on the bag together, hole for hole.
“I love that she enjoys the game,” shares her mom. “She’s always eager to come back to the course and play again. We even go even when it is no lesson time. I wanted her to take up golf in order to be exposed to a sport other than the common sports known in urban communities. I also was informed that in 2013 nearly five million dollars in college scholarships was wasted because there weren’t enough minority girls who played golf to accept them.”
This knowledge made Tali’s mom Trisha understand exactly why. “When I take Tali to the golf course— myself don’t know how to play—people, especially African American players, are always attracted to us and want to share tips and resources with me for her on the game of golf.” Trisha also knew that Tali could benefit from the life skills learned through golf, such as: focus, concentration, problem solving, practice, listening, persistence, respect, graciousness, courtesy, and honor; all much needed principles for succeeding in a non-home schooled environment.
Marine Park in Brooklyn (NY) is Tali’s home course, and last year, at just three-years old, her Mom took her there to practice swinging and to get familiar with the course layout, the various clubs and overall system of the sport. During her twice a week lessons, Tali is the youngest in the class. “I take lessons now, and I watch golf on You Tube to see the proper way of playing, learn the terms, and techniques of others who are playing well.” Tali has learned to keep her eye on the ball and smartly observes kids who are better. “My lessons are teaching me how to manage my club to get a good swing, but it’s still a big challenge for me right now. I know that I have to get better.”
Tali has been home schooled since she was five months old, but she is scheduled to start PreK this September. “I like science; especially anything to do with the solar system or dinosaurs.” Her aspirations for her life are extraordinary and she is setting the bar high. We’re sure Tali will make them all come true.