When Jonathan Lesperance decided he was going to learn to play golf, he also decided it was going to be a family education.
“He taught himself as he was teaching us,” said daughter Tiani, 11.
“Us” comprises Tiani and her two younger sisters, Nara, 10, and Azaria, 7. The three have natural athletic ability, but golf was a different bag.
“It took time to get used to it,” Nara said. “I would get frustrated, but when I did hit the ball good, I’d think, ‘This is a good sport.’”
Now, three years later, Nara has arrived in the spotlight. She won her age group in the girls’ division of the local Drive, Chip & Putt at Lone Tree Golf Course in Chandler. That places her in the sub-regional in Tucson Aug. 17 hoping for a place in the regional in San Diego in September. Regional winners advance to the national competition at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters.
Drive, Chip & Putt is sponsored by the USGA and PGA. Competitors are tested with three drives on a 30-yard-wide fairway, three chips of 10-15 yards and three putts, one each at 30 feet, 15 feet and six feet. Nara was second in driving, first in chipping and second in putting to take first overall.
“She is representing Maricopa as her local city, as The Duke golf course is her home course,” mom Shianne Holman said.
Last year, Tiani reached the second round of DC&P. This year, she was named an alternate and then received word Aug. 1 she would be competing in the sub-regional in Tucson. Azaria is also an alternate for the sub-regional in her age division.
“I would get frustrated, but when I did hit the ball good, I’d think, ‘This is a good sport.’”
Whatever happens in Tucson this month, the Lesperances have found golf to be a family-bonding experience. “With other sports, when you have the family playing together, you have to kind of play down to their level,” Jonathan Lesperance said. “But with golf, I can play at a high level with the kids.”
The family moved to Santa Rosa Springs in 2014 from Washington. With Holman teaching at Sequoia Pathway Academy, Lesperance said he was a stay-at-home dad for a while. Having played “just about every sport out there,” he got the idea of taking advantage of easy access to The Duke at Rancho El Dorado and learning the game.
“It is the hardest sport mentally,” he said. “If you want a challenge, this is it. And it really helps them learn what it’s like dealing with adversity.”
He eventually landed a job at The Duke as outside supervisor, making it even easier to get time on the course. The Lesperances have a junior set of clubs for the little girls to use on the course as they work to improve their game, but that won’t last long.
“They’re all growing so fast, I’m about to need another set.”
The family has a GoFundMe account to help pay the girls’ travel expenses.
This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.