Particular Olympics Missouri Athlete to Pursue PGA Tour Membership Card

Thomas Cleek has been taking part in golf for so long as he can keep in mind. The pairing—Cleek and {golfing}—was simply a kind of issues that was meant to be.

On the age of three, Cleek began collaborating in Particular Olympics Missouri’s Younger Athletes program, an early childhood program that introduces kids ages 2-7 to sports activities. Now, on the age of 23, he’s competed in two USA Video games: in 2014 and once more in 2018. He additionally gained gold on the 2022 Particular Olympics Missouri State Outside Video games, the place he shot a 75 at Oak Hills Golf Middle in Jefferson Metropolis. “I’ve put all my life into golf, and it’s been essential to me so far as having my profession,” Cleek says.

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Thomas Cleek has been {golfing} for so long as he can keep in mind and is now working in the direction of incomes his PGA Membership card.

Again in 2018, Cleek, together with seven golfers from the USA Video games, participated within the United PGA Expertise on the Northern Belief Open. He obtained suggestions from PGA Tour professionals and performed three holes with professional golfer James Hahn. If he ever had desires of being concerned with the PGA Tour earlier than, this expertise solely propelled that dream to the following stage. It opened Cleek’s thoughts to the likelihood {that a} profession in golf might be actuality.

Whereas attending Missouri State College (MSU), Cleek performed for the varsity’s membership golf staff. He needed to study the mandatory abilities to someday train and coach golf—particularly for Particular Olympics Missouri. He was part of the Bear POWER Program at Missouri State College, a two-year five-semester program that goals to be an inclusive faculty program for people with mental disabilities. “It was a extremely cool expertise,” he says about attending MSU and taking part in membership golf.

And finally, he began to pursue a extra direct profession within the golf area—a PGA Membership card. The cardboard would enable him to play for a reduced charge, and he’d be capable to use the PGA title and brand for enterprise playing cards, amongst a number of different rewarding benefits.

The photo shows a male golfer mid-swing.

Cleek seeks to grow to be a Particular Olympics golf coach, serving to to show the following technology of athletes to like the sport as a lot as he does.

“A part of transferring ahead in my profession is becoming a member of the PGA program and studying the way to grow to be a educating professional,” Cleek says. “I’ve to finish all three ranges of my coursework, however as soon as I full all three ranges, I’ll be an official PGA member.”

Throughout the coursework he’ll study issues like enterprise planning, profession enhancement, studying all elements of the sport and participant improvement.

“He’s very affected person with athletes and might break [things] down to allow them to perceive it higher,” Susan Shaffer, the Director of Coaching for Particular Olympics Missouri, says. “Thomas is a superb chief on and off the sector.”

For now, Cleek works as a gross sales affiliate at a golf store whereas specializing in finishing his coursework for the PGA. He jokes about feeling like a full-time scholar once more.

As for recommendation to others who need to pursue this route—or have an analogous purpose— he says they need to stay affected person and have an open thoughts to studying. “Take your time, and the primary factor is that I haven’t rushed this course of in any respect. It took me a while to even get into this system,” Cleek says.

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