*Nearly 20 years ago, Paula Pearson-Tucker was a high-achieving stock broker schmoozing and rubbing elbows with prospects and clients at a sales conference in Tuscan, Arizona. The 14-year financial professional was earning a great salary and enjoyed many of the accoutrements that accompany success. Then, out of nowhere, it happened.
“I was forced to play golf,” she revealed.”I was told that I had to help secure a client, get him on board and play golf with him.”
The only problem was, prior to the conference, she had “never ever played golf” in her “entire life.” Inexperience notwithstanding, the Florida-native was smitten at first swing.
“I had no desire to play golf, but, everybody said ‘I was a natural,’” she said. “It didn’t seem so natural to me. The more I played, the better I got and the more I wanted to play.”
Pearson-Tucker sold securities for two more years, quit her job in Atlanta and moved to South Florida to pursue a golf career. She enjoyed a decade-long amateur career and turned pro in 2004.
“That’s all I wanted to do and here I am almost 20 years later, all I do is play and teach golf,” she shared. “If it is not golf, I don’t really want to do it.”
Pearson-Tucker encourages newcomers to takes lessons from a qualified professional golfer. She leads Fore Life, Incorporated, a foundation that exposes minority children to golf and vital life skills. She runs the organization out of the Lauderhill Golf Course. She conversed with The Rinkins Report’s Zach Rinkins about her passion for “golf and kids.”
TRR: It takes a great deal of courage to play a game you have never played before in public, and, in front of a client–no less. What have you learned about golf? And, what did it teach you about yourself?
PTT: Golf is very much like life. I am very fortunate, because growing up, I thought golf was a rich white man’s game. I am neither rich nor white, but, I enjoy my love the game. I love the challenge. It’s not as easy as people think it should be and if you have any type of competitive nature, you are just going to try and do everything you can to get better at this sport and it requires so much more than just physical ability and it challenges your whole psyche and everything about you.
TRR: Some women, minorities and young professionals often feel left out of the loop because they might not be familiar with golf. How can playing golf help advance a career or business?
PTT: You always hear about the business deals that are made on the golf course. I know there is a lot of truth in that statement. I think minorities and young professionals do themselves a disservice if they don’t know and understand the game. I dedicated my life to making sure that young people and especially minorities take advantage of the available opportunities. Anything that you can do to try to level the playing field, you need to do it. Golf is one of them.
TRR: Besides closing the deal with the client in Arizona, could you share how playing enhanced your network?
PTT: Playing golf has given me so many opportunities that I don’t think I would have had otherwise. I have met a lot of famous people like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Will Smith, Alonzo Mourning and many others, because I can play golf and because I know, understand and can talk the game.
TRR : Tell us about your Fore Life Foundation and its mission to help kids.
PPT: I am raising money for a children’s country club in South Florida. I view golf as the tool to get into their minds and expose them to new ideas. Our kids are in trouble. That’s why I am on a mission to teach them life lessons and survival skills. I want my kids to explore their potential. But, it all has to start somewhere and a big focus of my program is giving them a core system. They come to me as a diversion. If I could plant some seeds and teach them how to make better decisions that will keep them alive and out of jail, we are on the right road.