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Self-taught athlete pursues passion, envisions golf career

Local athlete Daniel Cliff was first introduced to the game of golf at the age of ten when his father gave him and his brother their first set of golf clubs. Since the age of 12 he has been involved in The First Tee, which is a program that focuses on positively affecting youth through golf.

Cliff has also played on the golf team for FC. Recently he played in the Pro-Junior tournament:10th Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, an event that features junior golfers paired with professionals in a team-based competition.

Although he has been playing for years, Cliff has never received any golfing lessons to improve his game.

“Me and my brother are self-taught,” Cliff said. “I?ve never actually had lessons. If I was doing something wrong, I would figure it out on my own.”

Cliff?s can-do attitude allowed him to persevere through the arduous application process and become one of 81 junior golfers who were allowed to participate in the Pro-Junior Tournament. Cliff?s parents were very excited to see their son compete. His mother Erin, explained how it felt to be there that day.

“The place was beautiful,” Erin said. “The weather conditions were very good. We were very excited because we knew it was something he had wanted for a long time.”

So, with great weather and an even greater opportunity, Cliff played amongst golfing champions in a unique Pro-Junior gameplay.

“It was pretty awesome. I got to play with a pro, his name was Rod Spittle,” Cliff said. “We played a golf format called Best Ball in which the best score from each hole is put on the scorecard. We ended up shooting five-under on the first day of Best Ball. And on the second day we played at Pebble Beach and we shot two-under. The cut line was at eight under so we missed the cut by one stroke, but it was great.”

Despite not advancing into the next round, Cliff enjoyed the experience and looks forward to future opportunities in golf. He plans on joining the FC golf team this spring for a second season. When he joined last year as a sophomore, Cliff had little experience in playing golf in a team environment, but as a junior this year he is optimistic and excited.

“I didn?t start out well when I was playing for FC last year,” Cliff said. “I played in a lot of tournaments but last year was my first year on a golf team. So I wasn?t really used to it. At the beginning of the year I didn?t play as good, but then towards the end I played more of the way I should have been. This year is going to be better because I?ll be better and everyone else on the team will be better.”

Golf coach Jeff Hopper compliments Cliff’s talents. Noting his strength as a player, Hopper is excited to see him for the upcoming season.

“Daniel is full of energy and he really loves the game of golf,” Hopper said, “Because of that, he comes out excited to play and he enjoys himself. He is also one of the longest hitting players I have ever seen. His strength is being able to hit the ball a long way.”

Teammate Christian Saylor, ’14, regards Cliff highly not only as a golfer but as a teammate.

“It?s always a fun experience with him,” Saylor said. “He?s an easy going kid on and off the course. He just really knows how to play the game and I learn a lot just playing with him.”

Beyond playing in high school, Cliff hopes to play on the college level as well as reaching his ultimate dream to play professionally.

“I know that I want to play golf in college,” Cliff said. “My dream is to be a professional. I know that?s something I want to do down the road if the opportunity arises.”

For more sports, read the Oct. 21 article, Football sport shorts: Faith Christian.

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    Daniel ThaoAug 30, 2013 at 12:14 am

    The decorations for the house looks great. Not to mention the place looks great! The design looks awesome.