Competing in a sport at a national level would make most people nervous. Add TV cameras to the mix and the majority of us would run and hide! Not 9 year old Youth on Course member, Milan Norton.
Milan recently qualified for the national Drive, Chip & Putt competition in Augusta, Georgia. When we asked about nerves leading up to the competition, both Milan and her Mother Mickey agreed that their nerves were minimal knowing just how much she had already accomplished to get where she was.
“I wasn’t that nervous. It was kinda easy because I knew that it was a big accomplishment already going there so I wasn’t going to be nervous. A little disappointed if I lost – like last place – but I know I still won getting there. That’s what all my family members told me.” – Milan
“We really told her the whole time no matter what happens, you’re already the winner. You won the western region and no one could ever take that away from you. So every single person in the family really made an effort to make sure she understood that. Everyone was calm and cool. We told her how proud overall we were to just be there, and especially having us, her family, as her guests, we were so honored to be there with her.” – Mickey
For the Nortons, golf has always been a family affair. Milan’s older sister Mizara is also a Youth on Course member and former Drive, Chip & Putt competitor. Milan used to ride along in the cart with Mizara and their father, who golfed at the collegiate level at ASU, and one day Milan grabbed a club and started playing. As the girls got more and more involved in the sport and the golf community, Mickey spotted a Youth on Course ad on Instagram, contacted their two favorite local Las Vegas courses and was delighted to find out that they were YOC facilities.
“These are great courses – TPC Las Vegas is a phenomenal course. That’s where we practice to get ready for Drive, Chip & Putt. The balls were $5, and for the kids to play TPC for $5, it was really unbelievable.” – Mickey
Both Milan and Mickey agree that Youth on Course has been the catalyst for programs that they themselves have created, and access to $5 golf has motivated them to give back. They started a group called Saturday Swing Club, where a group of 8-10 YOC girls would go out and play together.
“We would meet at various YOC courses, and because we told them all to sign up [for YOC] everybody played for $5! We couldn’t beat that. So it was just a little fun league – parents would drop off the kids and the kids would go out with their pushcarts and play these great courses!”
Mickey says that YOC created an environment where families from all economic backgrounds could get together and play. No matter their financial status when they heard $5 golf, they were all out there. She says that all of the parents were very grateful to have access to that.
“After we started Saturday Swing Club we realized some of these kids need clubs as well. They need affordable golf but they want to come up there with great apparel and equipment – they shouldn’t get discouraged on that kind of stuff. So we just, from Youth on Course, it kicked off this idea.” – Mickey
The girls started a foundation called Club it Forward – people donate their old clubs and they redistribute them to those who need them. If a young player needs a sand wedge, even if they don’t have one in stock their size, they will cut it down for them.
“It’s been our little way to give back – from you guys giving to us and us moving it along giving to other people in some way too. It’s really unbelievable – it’s just them going start to finish. They just have it in them to give back.” – Mickey
The Norton family is very grateful for the opportunities that golf has given them. They feel that golf teaches so many things on and off the course – in small ways (just getting out on the course as a family, exploring new areas, having fun, finding the nearest ice cream shop), and in big ways (traveling to Augusta, Georgie for DC&P, meeting Jennifer Kupcho, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and shaking hands with Condoleezza Rice). All of these experiences have shaped young Milan into a fierce competitor, an avid philanthropist and according to her she’s on course to become an MIT graduate, a Scientist and a professional golfer!
We are so proud to have Milan Norton as a Youth on Course member!
If you’d like to follow Milan’s golf adventures, check out her instagram! @ballmarker