Resiliency at its Finest: Quentin Sasser PGA and the Journey to Finding Purpose
“We would always bet him a dollar that he couldnt hit that tree,” Sasser remembers. “And thats kind of when I really knew anything about golf, or knew anything about African Americans playing the game of golf.
“Later on, when I was a freshman in high school, he ended up being one of my teachers, and he would talk about the Blacks in the game of golf, which was Calvin Peete, Teddy Rhodes, Charlie Sifford and Lee Elder. He ignited a passion in me for the game. But I didnt know that at the time.”
A yearning to learn
“Golf came to me, I really didn’t go to golf. I was a Black kid who couldnt play the game in highschool. It was not something I had any interest in. There was one private golf course in town. As a Black person, you could work there as a cook or maintenance person but nothing else.”
“I felt like I wanted to be in a leadership position, whatever that role was, in giving back to the community in some aspect or helping kids along the way,” he adds.
As with most people, these plans changed over time. Sasser ran a clothing retail business called Sass for Men. It had a few locations in Salt Lake City. But he was looking to do more with his career.
He met Gary and Steve Schneiter who are now fellow PGA Professionals in Utah PGA Section. After a few stops in the old Nevada Bob’s golf retail store and several buckets at Pebblebrook Golf Course — which the Schneiter brothers own — golf came to him again.
“I’m the kind of person that has a can-do attitude. I felt I could really excel at golf and wanted more. I started going to Pebblebrook everyday, sometimes twice a day, hitting large buckets of range balls until my hands hurt.”
“They loved taking my money,” quips Sasser.“I’m passionate about what I do, and I’m very detail-oriented. One reason why I’m detail-oriented, and its something a lot of people don’t know about me, is I’m dyslexic. I think it makes me unique in my own way — I see things that others dont.”
He started recording every golf tournament on TV that he could find, adding:“I must have hundreds of VHS tapes.”
He continued to play golf, and Steve Schneiter, the PGA Member who won both a PGA Professional Championship (1995), as well as a Senior PGA Professional Championship (2016), lived in the same apartment at the time.
“I was at his apartment all the time, picking his brain and trying to learn everything I possibly could. The relationship I have with the Schneiters . . they’re like my family,” says Sasser. I asked Steve if I would be able to serve as his caddy so that I could see how he navigated the course. He made an amazing shot from the trees, which curved almost 90 degrees and landed in the right corner of green at the first event. I was in awe and left there shaking my head. That was enough to get me going.
“After my experience caddying for Steve, I wanted more,” Sasser continues. “When tour events came to town, I would go to the course on Monday to see if I could get a bag. I was a caddy during the Franklin Shootout for the PGA Tour Champions. J.C. Snead was a great friend and one of my best moments. He spent four hours with me on the driving range allowing me to ask all kinds of questions about the swing.”
A little help from the PGA Family
“Without him being concerned about me, I wouldn’t have my membership,” says Sasser. “Every time I see him I tell him, ‘Thank you.’ That was a big turning point for me in my life. I could never thank him enough.”
Sasser believes that giving back and resilience are the greatest lessons he has learned throughout his career.
“When I leave this earth, I will leave my mark here as the first African-American PGA Member and Titleist Staff Member in the Utah PGA Section, through my resilience, perseverance and believing in myself – knowing that I am good for the game,” says Sasser. “Anyone that’s heard me talk about golf can feel the passion I have for it. And I think that’s what we all need; that’s what will attract more people to the game.
“When I see a young Black kid that plays high school golf, I always offer to help and help them for free. When I get Black kids in our junior golf programs, I tell them to stay in the game and that anything I can do to help them, I’m willing to do.”