Valencia Golden dreamed of being a professional golfer from the age of nine.
He began to play professionally in 2004 at 19 and made a name for himself through dominating the all-Black Tour circuit.
He even bought what many thought was the only all-black hole in golf — the 100-foot bunkers at Hamlet Woods in La Quinta, California — on purpose.
Golden endured heaps of criticism, including death threats, and became the subject of a racist tweet from New Jersey. He referred to it as “the most beautiful tweet of all time”.
Golden later said the comments were “a little childish” and brushed them off as a “passionate debate”.
Golden spent seven years as one of the main players on the Black Tour and was a key figure in the growth of the tour, which now boasts players from 80 countries.
The tour, which no longer exists, was also a pioneer for women’s golf in the U.S.
Golden became the first and only black player ever to win on a professional golf tour when he claimed the 1999 Hawaiian Open at the age of 27.
He used this win to launch his own No Limits Foundation which funded charity golf and medical centres around the world.
After failing to win on a Tour qualifying event in 2000, Golden made the cut at the US PGA Tour event at Riviera in California the following week and finished 28th.
He secured his Tour card the following week. Golden then earned more than $4.5 million (Dh17.57 million) in five years.
But his time as a professional golfer came to an end after falling out with the tour. Golden was 23rd on the tour’s Rookie of the Year list in 2007 but had soon fallen to 123rd in the rankings and was suspended from playing tournaments the following year.
By 2010, Golden had retired from competitive golf and turned his attention to charity work.
“There were days when I felt like I was going to die in golf, but I stuck with it,” he said.
Golden has since become an advocate for minority golfers and hopes others can follow his example.
“I felt like I failed because people doubted me,” he said. “But God was with me. I was always confident in my abilities.”
Facts about Golden
– Vega Antonia Paulus Rosana Arias Golden turned professional on the Black Tour at the age of 19, the first black player ever to play on a professional tour
– Golden earned more than $4.5 million in five years
– Golden was 23rd on the rookie of the year list in 2007 but had soon fallen to 123rd in the rankings
– He made the cut at the US PGA Tour’s event at Riviera the following week and finished 28th
– He later developed the No Limits Foundation which helped fund charity golf and medical centres around the world
– Gold’s work at No Limits Foundation helped aged four, he was medically cured of scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that resulted in him developing mild scoliosis
– Golden, the father of three young daughters, still practises golf despite suffering from arthritis in his feet and now lives in La Quinta, California
– Golden’s father died of a heart attack in 2011 when he was 56. He said it was “a blessing in disguise” and encouraged his four daughters to study medical technology.
– Golden is now a father-of-three daughters and said his girls are studying to become doctors in medical technology
– Golden became the first and only black player ever to win on a professional golf tour when he claimed the 1999 Hawaiian Open at the age of 27
– Golden suffered from severe arthritis in his feet and with illness reduced to playing golf from his wheel-chair – he has now retired from professional golf