Weekly Feature

2018-05-16 / Local News

Youth wins essay contest, attends PGA event


Miller Miller Dawson Miller recently took his love of golf to an entirely different level.

The 14-year-old East Amherst native was a national winner of the Succeeding Together essay contest that celebrates the positive impact that The First Tee, an international golf development organization, has on youth.

Miller was one of four first-prize winners to receive a four-day, three-night trip for two to Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend the 2018 PGA Wells Fargo Championship May 3-6 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.

“It meant a lot,” Miller said. “Having the opportunity to be that close to the players and have that experience with other First Tee participants around the nation was a pleasure. It was a great experience.”

As part of the experience, he was able to be “inside the ropes” during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship and walked 18 holes with pro golfers Jason Day and Paul Casey. Day and Ricky Fowler are his two favorite golfers.

“It was amazing,” Miller said. “I didn’t talk with them that much because I knew they had to stay focused. At the end of the round, they acknowledged me and said ‘hi,’ and I told them it was a pleasure watching you. It was just a blur.”

Miller especially enjoyed watching Day and Casey’s short games up close.

“Their short game saved them from what could have been a lot of terrible situations on the course,” Miller said. “It showed their focus and that they can compete really well.”

Miller took his father, Dan, whom he considers his role model, to the tournament. It was also Miller’s answer to one of the essay questions for the contest.

“He’s been everything to me,” Miller said. “He’s given me so many opportunities in golf and pushes me to be a better player. It is paying off.”

Another question for the essay contest asked participants to write about the importance of having and being part of a “Go-To Team,” a core life skill of The First Tee that fosters partnerships and teamwork in all areas of life.

Miller has hemophilia, an internal bleeding disorder, which restricts him from many activities.

Miller said he is a “mild, moderate bleeder” in which he bleeds internally, making it hard for his blood to clot. He said he has never experienced any injuries on the golf course itself but it has forced him to miss practice time.

Miller works with the Hemophilia Center of Western New York, and it has allowed him to advocate for hemophilia legislation before the state government in Albany. He also represents the center by playing in benefit golf tournaments and traveling to conventions. For the last two years, Miller has won junior national championships in Phoenix called “Gettin’ in the Game,” a golf competition developed by CSL Behring and designed specifically for the bleeding disorders community.

Miller started playing golf when he was 7 years old, got his first set of clubs a few years later, and for the past five years has worked with swing coach Jim Horne every Friday at The Dome on Wehrle Drive.

Miller is home-schooled and will be attending Williamsville East in the fall where he hopes to play golf and basketball.

He will also continue with the First Tee of WNY where he hopes to pass an exam in the next month to become an “ace” member, meaning he will be able to coach younger golfers and partner with First Tee coach Patty Jordan-Smith. He is currently an “eagle” member. There are five “levels” in the First Tee program: player, par, birdie, eagle and ace.

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