Golf builds character and honor

Who knew some rocks in a garage, would be the catalyst to motivate senior golfer James Petty, 23, to become the leader of the Florida A&M University men’s golf team. 


“I found some rocks in the garage and I started hitting them in the backyard,” Petty said.  “After that my dad took me to the driving range and I immediately fell in love. I’ve been playing ever since”.


Petty, a senior business administration student from Grand Blanc, Mich., is the leader of the men’s golf team, a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.


“It’s some pressure the guys expect me to lead the team,” Petty said.  “I’ve been the team most valuable player and athlete of the year”.


Head Men’s Golf Coach Marvin Green Jr. has coached Petty since he entered FAMU as a freshman and believes in his abilities on and off the golf course.


“It’s a pleasure when you (have) a player (who is) self motivated,” Green said.  “He’s a natural leader and he wants to win. It makes my job easy by having people like him on the team”.


Ever since arriving to the university, Petty said he wanted to be the best.


“Since I was a freshman I wanted to be the number one guy on the team,” Petty said.  “Since my sophomore year I have been that,” he said.


Petty’s teammates said he is essential to the team and keeps the team in good spirit.


“He gives me a lot of guidance,” said teammate Wesley Yates, 19, a second year economics student from Atlanta.  “He’s fun to be around (and) he’s a good guy.”


Green said Petty shows great leadership and has his performance has enhanced over the years.


“He was the young one on the team, now he’s a senior,” Green said. “His game has improved tremendously, he doesn’t like losing and he wants to get the best out of his teammates. ” 


During the 2005-06 men’s golf season, golf as well as the men and women’s tennis teams, swimming teams, and the women’s bowling team were cut as athletic programs at FAMU.


“I was devastated, it was one of the main reasons I came down here,” Petty said.


Green said he had a hard time with the cuts, but remained optimistic.


“I told him to trust me, and within four months we were back,” Green said.


Even though the team was reinstated, the season was over and they were unable to play until following year.


 “I was very excited, (we) were pretty happy” Petty said.


Green credits petty for saving the golf program.


“If Petty would have left along with the other guys, FAMU golf would have been gone forever, no doubt in my mind,” Green said.


This past weekend Petty finished in the top 10 out of 40 at the seventh annual FAMU Spring Invitational.


“Before every tournament and practice he (helps) us out” said Yates, who is also Petty’s roommate.


Playing in his last season on the Rattler’s golf team, Petty still has one goal left to achieve.


“…win the National Minority Tournament, our biggest tournament of the year,” Petty said.  “I have come close but I want to win it”.


The National Minority Golf Tournament will be held mid-May in Port St. Lucie.


With all that Petty hopes to accomplish in golf, he still has other goals.


“I just want to be successful,” he said.  “My parents and grand parents have been great examples”.


Petty said he puts just as much emphasis on golf as he does his school. 


“Business school work and golf take up most of time,” Petty said.


Petty interned on Wall Street and has been working with his fathers business, Petty Investments, since he was in high school.


“I’m a fighter,” Petty said.  “I don’t like to give up. I have worked very hard to achieve the things I want to achieve out of life.”