By Manuel C. Ortiz Jr.
As I rarely write any post or give my opinion on such matters I do believe this is a great opportunity to share my experience as a minority in a profession that doesn’t employee a lot of minorities in our positions because of what I consider the point of the following short story. “Opportunities “
I come from a migrant family who naturalized Legally here in the USA in the mid 1900’s. My mom and dad do not have a college education but still found a way to successfully manage there own restaurant for now 28+ years and put me through college to achieve a first step for our family to have an educated generation.
The question is how does a minority choose his or her path of profession and find that it is a job that is not a job but a hobby because you can wake up and love what you do every single day. Well growing up we do hear a lot about becoming a professional athlete, singer, military, or restaurant owner.
However I went into a field where until 1961 it removed its Caucasian-only clause. So my first opportunity was when my dad learned to play golf from his white friend who in turn encouraged my dad to teach me golf at 3 years of age. So I went on to learn the game and played in my first tournaments wearing baseball shoes as golf shoes and a set of clubs from KMART branded Northwestern.
I won my first tournament and didn’t really know what I did to do that. During my high school golf experience I was able to play in many tournaments and win many tournaments. The person who helped me along with my father was Neil Sconiers who also was a white man who gave me a shot and opportunity to learn from him. At 16 years of age I went to Moorhead Minnesota to work with a migrant family in the Red Beet Fields. That meant I walked rows and rows of farming fields with a hoe in hand removing weeds. I would get back to the multi-family housing we lived in which we fur- nished with furniture from the near by college that the college kids would throw away when they were going back home for the summer. I would remember saying wow this stuff is like new and well I made my sleeping quarters using that stuff. I also got a cheap set of clubs and found a near by course that was 4 miles away. After work- ing the fields I would walk with that bag to the course and pay my fee to hit balls on the practice facility every day that I could.
The Golf Pro there was named Russ Nelson. He saw my work ethic and asked me if I would clean carts, he would let me hit balls for free. Again (Opportu- nity). He gave me some lessons and helped me improve my game as well. After the summer was done I left and all he asked of me was to give him a good hot sauce recipe which I made good on after I became a PGA professional which he explained to me that was a possible career choice I never even knew of.
I would go on to go to college for to become a Certified PGA Golf Professional which again did not have a huge minority percentage. There was a PGA Professional who took me under his wing and taught me many things to become a golf professional and again this was a White Man who gave me an opportunity.
I would go on to get my first salaried professional Job in Lajitas, Texas at what was named Ambush At Lajitas. Gavin Heap another PGA professional who was also a White Guy took me into his team and further Polished me in becom- ing a better Golf Professional. He gave me an opportunity. I would then go on to get another Job and was hired by a very successful businessman to oversee a project he had. Again a White Man who gave me an opportunity to grow myself and learn more.
After 6 years of working with him I found myself in a position for another opportunity to grow myself and guess what it was an- other White Man this time it was Jason Hase another great PGA Golf professional who also helped polish me further to becoming a better golf professional.
This launched me to what was the highlight of my career to go do a Full Start up of a Gary Player Signature project. This time it was another PGA Golf Professional Jim Bellington who is a White Man who introduced me to a Latin Owned Company to lead there golf project. While there I was able to put everything I learned into changing a culture of golf and training a team that successfully executed 3 years of a PGATOUR Latino America Tournament.
I now find myself in Garden City, Kansas employed by another White Man who like many others I have met is a totally awesome indi- vidual who gave me an opportunity to be part of this project.
What is the point to this whole story??? Well here is how I see it. Yes I get racially profiled in this industry, Yes I have to prove myself time and time again, Yes I am expected to fail and deal with great amounts of doubt. However what made the difference is those (Opportunities). So I believe the key to all this is yes we have ways to educate ourselves now, yes we can find ways to pay for things to help us get those opportunities, but if we as minorities are not given the opportunities to do jobs that are other then hard labor or put ourselves in leading roles then I agree we don’t have the privilege’s needed to achieve great things.
So I ask all my friends and fel- low professionals if an opportunity presents itself to help a minority by giving him or her an opportunity then that is a huge step into mak- ing All Lives Matter a little more. There are countless stories and Individuals that helped me in my career that I didn’t name I would have to write a book on all those stories. Thank you all and I hope my humble post will inspire some- one to give out some opportunities.
P.S. not all white people are Racist, bad, & evil. Not all im- migrants want to cause harm and cause harm to this country.