Notah Begay III is thrilled a golf tournament run by his foundation has received a rather prestigious award. And not only is the Native (Navajo/Pueblo) golfer ecstatic with what the award signifies but also what it can also translate into during the future. The International Network of Golf (ING) awarded The Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge an Industry Honors award in the Tournament Service category during a ceremony in Orlando in late January. The award celebrates an outstanding contribution to a local or national event, which improves tournament golf for all.
"It's going to create a tremendous amount of exposure for us," Begay, the only full-blooded Native American on the PGA Tour, said of the award. The third annual Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge was held this past August at the Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, N.Y. The event featured a dozen pro players - six female and six male - competing on mixed teams in a best ball competition. Hunter Mahan, who competes on the PGA Tour, and Cristie Kerr, a star on the LPGA Tour, combined to win the tournament. Perhaps more importantly, however, was the fact the event managed to raise $1.25 million for the Notah Begay III Foundation. Including the money from 2010, the tournament has now raised more than $2.5 million in three years.
Begay was especially pleased his foundation was honored with an award that was open to all. And he's hoping it proves to be inspirational for many. "A lot of time our Native American kids grow up thinking they're second-class citizens," he said. "This shows them we can compete with anybody." He's also hoping this accolade will generate plenty of more interest in the foundation, enabling many others to take notice and in turn hopefully find ways to contribute to the cause. "For the majority of time Native American events go unnoticed, except in our Native community," Begay added.
Begay began his foundation in 2005, partnering with the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation. The foundation assists Native American youth by running athletic programs which promote physical fitness, wellness and leadership development.