Why Pine Hills is so special to this champion golfer
Maurice Allen, World Long Drive champ, gives back to community
PINE HILLS, Fla. – Maurice Allen, the 2018 World Long Drive champion, didn't care much for golf as a child, but that all changed in college.
"One of my friends when I was in college bet me I wasn't athletic enough with a golf ball," Allen said.
It turns out, Allen hit that golf ball with a force like no other, helping him discover a talent that led him to the sport of long drive, in which an athlete has to hit the golf ball the farthest by driving.
Allen has won several titles around the world. In 2018, he became the first African American to win a World Long Drive Championship.
"I knew it from the first ball I hit, first round, four days prior to it. And I remember calling my little brother and I was like, 'Hey, you need to get out here 'cause it's gonna happen. I promise you it's gonna happen,'" he recalled.
In May, Allen did what no other athlete had done before: hit a golf ball 393 yards over Niagara Falls.
"Golf, it has taught me so many different things or, I guess, awakened so many different things in me that my parents taught me over the years," Allen said. "It teaches you self-control and how to handle disappointment or how to find the silver lining in every cloud."
He said it's those life lessons that have given him a greater appreciation for the sport, and he is now using his position to highlight the community that watched him grow up.
"I love my area. I love giving back to my area. I still live in Pine Hills to this day. Everything I do is pretty much in the Pine Hills area," 38-year-old Allen said.
The Orlando native isn't just thinking about winning championships. He's also thinking about helping the kids in his neighborhood.
"I believe that there's a lot of amazing talent, and there's a lot of great minds, and there's a lot of brilliant young people in my area, but, unfortunately, because of funding and dollars and things like that, they aren't really able to showcase their abilities or their strength," Allen said.
Last year, he donated $20,000 to his alma mater, Evans High School, to fund scholarships. This year, he plans to donate $50,000.
“This year, we’re gonna try to do a few things different with the scholarships -- try to get kids in that area (to) start their businesses,” Allen said. “Especially for kids in my area, especially for minorities. Sometimes you only get one chance or, majority of times, you don’t get a chance. And for me, it was really important to create an opportunity and give people hope and give 'em a chance to try to better their lives.”
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