And while Mariah may have been blessed with natural talent and a strong work ethic, no one "achieves greatness" without the help of a strong support team behind them.
Meet Ken Stackhouse and learn how he and his wife, Sharon, helped nurture this golf prodigy and how you too, can develop a golf champion in this inspiring interview!
A. Five years of age is a very good time to start. I have noticed that only a small number of kids can actually stay focused long enough to truly benefit from golf at an earlier age.
Q2. What are the benefits of golf as opposed to other sports?
A. Golf is an international sport. Golfing kids are generally very disciplined, focused and goal-oriented.
Q3. Is there an aspect of the game that a child should develop first?
A. I think that children should learn golf backwards. Work on putting first, chipping around the green, short shots (50 yards in), long irons and then, the driver. If parents really want their kids to succeed at golf, they must have the discipline to go slowly. If they're starting at 5 yrs old, what's the rush?
Q4. How and when will a parent know that their child has the potential to go further with the sport?
A. That's hard to say. But a good indication is their performance in big tournaments. They don't have to win but they should be competitive. I would also say, you must develop the child's confidence simultaneously while teaching them skills and competitiveness. DO NOT KILL THEIR BELIEF IN THEMSELVES!
Q5. It's well known that becoming good at golf requires a lot of money. I've read that it can take $35K a year for coaching, equipment and travel. How can a parent of modest means even begin to help their child compete? What were some key thing(s) that you and your wife, Sharon, did to help Mariah succeed?
A. We did NOT have a lot of money in comparison to most of our competition. The God of our Ancestors made a way!
There were also a number of organizations as well: The Women in Golf Foundation,
The Hank Aaron Foundation, many local golf clubs (Canongate Golf Clubs and Affinity Golf) and generous local individuals who helped us along the way.
You have to prove yourself first. PLEASE look outside your ethnic group. Mariah's mom and I were a team! We wrote letters to potential donors, visited golf clubs, spoke at various events and pushed through! It will NEVER be easy. No one owes you anything. Be thankful for what you get and God be with you if you don't have any money...you're gonna need Him!
Q6. What golfer(s) does Mariah admire and why?
A. Mariah admires a local golfer named Laura Coble, Christina Kim LPGA, Annika Sorrenston LPGA and many others. They're all quite nice!
Q7. How did you and your wife, Sharon, help keep Mariah grounded as well as Richard and Oracene did with Venus and Serena?
A. Mariah's mom and I kept Mariah involved in school, church and with friends. We made sure that she did everything, all the other kids did. She shopped, went to parties and did the mall things with her friends. School always came first.
When she played golf, she played. When she finished, it was over. Golf was never Mariah's whole world. We pray that it's not now.
Q8. How should parents deal with the question of "race" on the golf circuit?
A. By being among the best! Parents will find that, for whatever reason, golfers are some of the nicest people in the world!
You will not meet with very much discrimination on the golf course. We didn't, and most Black golfers will tell you that they don't. There will be some minor things to be sure, though it will not happen very often. It may not happen at all for most people.
In actuality, finding a place that allows you to practice and play, being completely ready to play AND finding funding will be a much bigger concern than that of race.
Q9. What are Mariah's golf goals?
A. I really don't know her personal goals since she left us for Stanford. I do know that she wants to win an NCAA championship or two. Mariah also mentioned that she thinks she would like try out for the LPGA when she gets done with school. I think she can do it!
Q10. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
A. Mariah's mom and I worked very hard to raise Mariah to be amongt the "best in golf." However, we never lost sight of what was most important: that Mariah have a very good sense of who she is, and that she did the same things as the kids around her.
Like any good parent, we wanted her to grow up and attend the best school possible. Mariah's life is her own now. If she wants to "turn pro," great! If she wants to hang her clubs up after college, great!
Her younger brother, John, will be there to tell her "That's alright Mariah, let's go!" like he has always done, and they will be happily on their way.
Parents, give your child prodigy the "option to choose." Your support is all that they really need to succeed.
Learn more about Mariah Stackhouse and her family here by clicking on the link below:
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