Marti Longoria-Potts was not expecting a call from long-time friend Brech Spradley on a Friday in October, but it came at the right time.
Longoria-Potts and Spradley grew up playing golf together in Corpus Christi and both make their living teaching the game as professionals. Longoria-Potts is the director of instruction at Tee2Green driving range on the Southside and Spradley is a well-known teaching professional in the Austin area.
The call came after a summer during which Longoria-Potts suffered injuries in a major car crash in the Houston area. Then, she had several items stolen from her vehicle, including her purse.
Spradley was calling to give Longoria-Potts some big news. Longoria-Potts had won the Southern Texas Professional Golfers Association Youth Player Development Award.
The award is given to golf professionals who focus on working with young golfers to not only train future players but grow the game.
When she heard the news, a flood of emotion hit Longoria-Potts. After the phone call, she retreated to a vehicle on the end of the driving range at her business and "had a breakdown for 20 minutes."
"He wanted to be the one to tell me and he knew how hard it was and knew what I had gone through," Longoria-Potts said. "Yes, I do like to talk and I remember telling him, 'OK, tell me again.' "
Helping young golfers improve and learn the game has been a passion for the always-active Longoria-Potts during her career as a teaching professional.
Longoria-Potts, who was a decorated amateur golfer at King High School in the late 1980s, went on to play at the University of Oklahoma and chased tour golf for nearly six years.
She said as a junior golfer she had to leave the city for lessons and talked about the sacrifices her parents and family made so she could play and practice. Her mother quit her job when Longoria-Potts was 13 so she could pursue golf. At the same time, her father was working to grow his automotive business.
But after not qualifying for an LPGA satellite tour in 1997, Longoria-Potts began turning her attention to teaching and growing the game.
Longoria-Potts had worked in San Diego and Dallas after leaving the pro tour ranks, and in October 2003 graduated the PGA of America's Golf Professional Training Program. She was nine months pregnant with her now 13-year-old son, Rickie, so a few months later she returned to Corpus Christi.
She worked at King's Crossing golf course and with the city of Corpus Christi, breaking ground as one of the first female general managers or head professionals in the city's history. She resigned from the city in 2009 to focus on building the driving range on Saratoga Boulevard.
The range opened in 2010, and her goal has been to give back through teaching the game.
Longoria-Potts said winning the award helps shine a light on local teaching professionals.
"I know that I have the qualities, I have the experience but to actually have somebody tell you that or to see it in that light is very important because it brings more awareness," she said. "(It shows) that they don't have to travel to San Antonio to get a quality golf teacher when you could just come here."
Growing the game in a town like Corpus Christi can be tough as Longoria-Potts said the year-round training and playing young athletes do for other sports has pulled some potential golfers away.
But that has done little to deter her.
Her experiences as a player helped shape her as a teacher because she can tell young golfers the work it takes to be successful, and the parents about how expensive and time-consuming competing can be.
But the rewards can outweigh the sacrifices because Longoria-Potts said golf can not only open doors to college scholarships but to playing a game for life.
"It's just to be fulfilled with this passion of golf to whatever is the highest level I could be at," Longoria-Potts said. "I want to try and be the type of person and mentor and teacher I had when I was growing up. ... I want to be that person that made a difference."
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