PGA Professional Andre Lacey shares love for golf with community, giving back to Paine College

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – PGA Professional Andre Lacey has had a love for the game of golf at an early age, and now, he is sharing his knowledge by giving back to the community while helping to bring accolades and national titles to the historic Paine College.

Thank you for welcoming us out here on the golf course for Celebrating Black Excellence. Now, let’s get started with your career. How did you get started in the game of golf?

<strong><em>PGA Legend Jim Dent</em></strong>
PGA Legend Jim Dent

So my grandfather is a PGA legend, Jim Dent. He did very well for himself; won 13 times on tour. So that was my initial introduction. However, I learned how to play golf at the Boys Girls Club. So right there in the back of the [E.W.] Hagler Boys and Girls Club, that’s where I hit balls at. That’s where I practiced at with Conan Sanders. So, that’s what got me into it. I strayed away from it for probably close to 20 years. You know, life happens, and then, I got back into it.

What drove you to get back into the game?

Peace. So, you know, you’re out here in the elements; you’re good. It’s just you and God’s creations.

As we mentioned, you are a PGA professional. Talk about what steps it took to get to that point.

It’s a process. I went a route that was a little tougher than normal because as an associate, you have to go through all the levels. You work for it. So not only do you have to work, but you also have to maintain 40 working hours. So, you’re working two jobs, and you’re not getting paid for it. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions is that I was getting paid for a lot of stuff I was doing. It could have been more payment, but our economy is not one that supports a lot of pay with certain things. So yeah, it was a road, but I mean, anything worth having is just not easily given.

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So, what does having that title mean for you specifically and personally?

A lot. So, being a PGA coach, it’s just something that you’ve worked for, and it wasn’t given me. So no matter how much my grandfather has done, I still had to work to get this stuff. So, you know, it’s not taken lightly. So, although I’m one of the cheapest people in town, it’s not because I’m not proficient or I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s because I understand the people that I’m trying to reach. I want to reach blue collar workers that are looking to get involved in golf and looking to give them a better quality of life. So, I’m not looking to get rich. Money has never been my motivator. It’s just to get people out and help people find the peace that I found out.

Now, you are also the assistant coach for the men’s and women’s golf team at Paine College. What pushed you to go to Paine?

Just loving Augusta. That’s just simply what it is. I went to Paine College. I went for several years, and now again, life happens. I wasn’t able to graduate, but I was able to volunteer and help the golf team. Eventually that turned out into a position. So again, just trying to serve my community.

What impact have you seen since becoming the assistant coach?

We’ve had a great run this year. So, our girls team just won another tournament in North Carolina. We won one the week before. We have a total of four wins. We tied second in the national championship. You know, we have two all Americans as well. So, I mean, that’s some stuff that hadn’t been done at Paine. So, we’ve had a good impact.

We also had the opportunity to talk with two of Andre’s student athletes from the Paine College Women’s Golf Team, who are also All Americans: Helena Rios, a freshman, and Ashley Michel, a junior. So, how did you get started with golf?

Helena: I started because my brother played golf and like as kind of a family thing. So, I just kind of hopped in and then, you know, kind of fell in love with it when I hit high school. That’s kind of how it started.

Ashley: My stepdad work at a golf course, so I would just go out there and see people. It was something different. So I just liked it. So I just did it every day until now.

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How important is the game of golf to both of you?

Helena: Um… very important. I’d like to say it’s almost just under food. (Laughs)

Ashley: I would say the same thing. Golf is pretty important. A lot of my success come from golf and school. I’m not from the U.S. I’m from the Bahamas, so golf is just like that opening point for everything in my life at all stages.

So, how has Mr. Lacey impacted you as far as the game of golf?

Ashley: Um, in a good way. I would say, like, a lot. He’s more of, like, a mentor. He knows what to say at the right time. It’s just nice to have him with us. We’re grateful and very happy.

Helena: So, yeah, me personally, I feel like I’m very new as a freshman, so I didn’t really know much about college golf. So, he’s very helpful in like transitioning me from high school to actually competing.

Andre, how important is it to see more African-Americans playing the game of golf and enjoying the game of golf?

So, golf is a lifetime sport. So no matter if you’re disabled or whatever ailment you may have, golf is that competitive sport that you can play as well. So, we have that with golf. With people with disabilities or missing limbs, you can learn how to play golf within your perspective capability. So, it’s so many different things that you can do with golf, and it’s not just being out on the courses. It is learning how to play different games in golf. You can have a short game, long drive, or all types of stuff. So there’s more than just one format of golf. Then, as much golf business that goes on in Augusta, there’s a lot that we don’t understand about the sport and the business. So, I just want to be that vessel to kind of put the information out there.

Of course, golf is a big thing here in the city of Augusta especially because we have the Masters. How important is golf being here in the city?

Huge. The Masters is the only major tournament that’s played in one location. It’s just a beautiful course. So, when you walk on that course, it is unlike anything else. So to have that here is just a jewel in itself. Then the long history, you know, the caddies and all the different opportunities that it provided for the families. We know people that go there and get jobs, and they’re able to help their families out. That’s just on the lower aspect of the business. You know, having a tournament brings a lot of business here, and some of the new businesses that you see probably were influenced by the Augusta National. So, it’s a huge influence.

Now, what words of encouragement can you give somebody who wants to get into golf?

Andre: Be humble. Be humble when you get to the golf course. Don’t think you can do what you see. It may happen one time or two times, but come with an open mind and be humble because this is tough. Yeah, it’s tough. So you want to come relaxed. I say it this way. You want to approach golf as if you approach going to get a good massage. When you go in to get a good massage, you’re excited. You can’t go in it on a table tense. You have to relax. So, that’s the way you need to come to the golf. You need to come relaxed and open.

Helena: Honestly, it’s dedication, and you just have to put in the hours. You have to be grateful for the opportunities that come towards you. Even when times get tough, you got to keep going. Everyone has a bad day. Everyone has a bad slump. It’s just that you got to push through that.

Ashley: I agree with what she said. Just to add on, I would say it’s more about the mental instead of the physical part of it. You have to be mentally strong, and it will mentally prepare you as you go along. Also, it’s hard work. You put in a lot of work to be consistent. In some ways, you’re going to struggle at every stage of your life. When it comes to golf, pros still struggle. So amateur, you’re going to struggle; as a junior, you’re going to struggle. So, it’s just going to be what type of struggles you have. So, it builds character, it prepares you for life, and it’s a fun sport. So, we love it. It’s awesome.

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Andre, if people want more information about you or if they want to book lessons with you, how can get that information?

You can simply type in PGA Pro Near Me, and my name will come up in Augusta, or you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at Andre Frantz Golf. That’s pretty much it. Tik Tok as well: Andre Frantz Golf. That’s where I usually put some of the lessons that I’ve done. So I’m pretty, pretty available.

To watch Andre give Karlton T. Clay a “lesson,” you can watch it here:

Videography by Gary Nipple

Music Produced by Danny Ray Smith, Jr.

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