Sahith Theegala is the top male collegiate golfer in the country. But being the best in a foreign land comes with its’ own set of obstacles. Theegala’s parents, who came from Hyderabad, India, weren’t aware of the extent of racism in the United States. Their boy was only ten-years-old when a man approached him at a local private country club and was said, “You’re not supposed to be here.” By the time the incident occurred, he had already won the Junior Worlds Tournament in San Diego multiple times.
Sahith Theegala already knew he was on a path to achieve significant accomplishments in his life, so the comments did little to dissuade his development. “In the light of what’s going on, I’m proud of who I am and what I’m adding to the golf community in terms of diversity, ” he said in an interview. “Ultimately, we’re all trying to do the same thing in pro golf, and that’s making a successful career. Hopefully, there is some inspiration behind that, for people who watch me and realize you don’t have to be the stereotypical white golfer.”
Diamond In The Rough
Sahith Theegala stands at a lanky 6-foot-3, with an unconventional swing and impressive short game. At his first college tournament as a freshman, Theegala let his anxiety get the better of him. To get out of his head, he started taking worse shots on purpose. Dirt and grass sent airborne in all directions, and full-swing flop-shots zipped by other competitors. When the time to tee-off arrived, his nerves seemed to settle as he hit a 6-iron on a par-5 green and two-putted for birdie in his collegiate debut.
Aside from his early success, Theegala isn’t far removed from his humble beginnings. When Pepperdine University first scouted him, Theegala would shove his clubs in the wrong slots, wear long socks, and an untucked shirt. Since he wasn’t a member of a private club, he mostly practiced at public courses.
Every other year, Theegala’s father brings his family to India to remind them to stay grounded and be conscious of their origins. “I’m definitely proud of my background and my Indian heritage,” says Theegala. “But when I’m around my friends and other golfers, it’s not something I think about.”
Haseeb is a freelance writer who uses his expert knowledge, skills, and personal experience to craft content that makes people take action. He has contributed to IAPWE, Elephant Journal, BuzzFeed, and more. His specialty is health and wellness with interests in travel writing and copywriting. When he isn't writing, you can find him weightlifting or watching football.